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The Faces Behind Rowing BC – DAVID DUNNISON

In his own words:

Rowing was pretty obscure in this province when I first became aware of it. That didn’t deter my interest and enthusiasm, though. Signing up for rowing was the first thing I did after arriving on campus at UBC. I literally signed up for rowing before moving into my dorm room and before signing up for my classes. To put this scene at the rowing recruitment table in greater context, a friend of mine had pierced my ear on a beach that summer with a sewing needle and my mother had sewn me a needlepoint jean jacket. In those days the idea of a male with piercings was well outside of the mainstream, and rowers were at the clean-cut end of the spectrum even among other athletes. I’ve always laughed about what the coach must have thought about the chances this apparent hippy, with his earring and crazy jacket would even show up for practice, let alone stick around and ultimately work hard enough to make the National Team.

I am a new member of the Rowing BC Board, and am just becoming re-acquainted with the organization. Rowing has already offered me a lot in terms of lifelong friendships and tremendous achievements. Those achievements came with great sacrifice, though, and the friendships were forged in shared struggle. Rowing in the 1970s and early 1980s had plenty of challenges outside of heavy practice sessions and tough competition. One of my proudest rowing accomplishments came in my first year with a tight second place by 0.12 seconds in the 4- after a full 2000-meter, neck-and-neck battle at the Canadian Championships. A classic case of the winner being the crew with oars in the water at the finish line. Yet, true to the sport in those days, winning was everything. It wasn’t until the following year that anything other than a gold medal was even considered to be awarded. It is because of the hardship, obscurity and struggle for recognition that I remain committed to leave this sport in a better place than it was when I first joined.

After rowing, I enjoyed many years as a competitive cyclist. Among other achievements, I won a state championship in California and a provincial championship in BC along with four top ten performances in World Championship competition and was ranked 7th in the world as a sprinter on the popular cycling Strava App. My biggest hobby these days is woodworking – something that the constant need to mend our damaged rowing shells first introduced me to back in the 1970s.

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