Last August, McKayla Taaffe, a senior at Pine View School, claimed her first gold medal at the 2010 U.S. Rowing Club National Championship, in Oak Ridge, Tenn. This August, she and her younger brother, Travis, a Pine View sophomore, are planning to take home the gold when they compete in the CanAmMex Games, in Canada. They’re the first brother/sister combo in Sarasota to compete at the same time in the regatta.
“We’re training twice a day, and once I get back to Boston, it’s just rowing, sleeping and eating until Canada,” Taaffe says. “We’re not going to lose — we’re going to win.”
The Taaffe siblings sink into the couch at their parents’ house on Siesta Key. Since school let out June 6, Taaffe has been so busy with training at Community Rowing Inc., in Boston, and while home last weekend with tasks for her senior year of high school — senior pictures, debutante parties — that she has yet to make it to the beach. During any down time they can find, the couch becomes their go-to spot for movies.
“CanAmMex is an agreement made between Canada, Mexico and the U.S.,” Taaffe says. “It’s for people who don’t make it to Worlds. It’s a similar experience: You travel out of your comfort zone to where a different language is spoken, and there are different people, cultures and foods. It’s kind of a developmental stage, but also a really competitive regatta.”
Travis Taaffe qualified for CanAmMex by placing fourth at the 2011 Club National Championships in July, at the Indianapolis Rowing Center.
“I placed by 4/1,000 of a second, the smallest ever at the championships,” Travis Taaffe says. “I went to the sculling selection camp and was the youngest there. The camp is really intense and sends a lot of people home, with the top people competing at the world regatta.”
The siblings compete with each other almost as much as they do against other teams.
“It’s hard now because he’s way better than me — he’s faster and stronger,” Taaffe says. “We try to compete off of pure strength and speed. Comparatively, though, to the other girls, I’m probably better than he would be to the other boys.”
Before they Taaffes head off to Canada, they’ll compete in the 129th Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, in St. Catharines, Ontario. They’ll race in the same boats that will be used for the CanAmMex — a training tool to help speed check the boats before games.
“The race hasn’t really hit us much,” Taaffe says. “All we do is sleep, watch movies and eat, but it’s totally worth it and a great trade-off. I think once we actually get to Canada and see kids from the other countries, it will.”
Contact Loren Mayo at [email protected].