Highland hopes 50th one for the books

STEVE GREEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

The Highland Country Club is hoping to celebrate 50 years of curling in record-setting fashion.

Starting today at 8 a.m., 10 players will try to break the Guinness Book of Records entry for the longest game, which stands at 40 hours and 23 minutes.

It's among several events planned, including several tries at setting the Guinness mark for shortest eight-end game -- now 47 minutes -- as well as setting an unofficial mark for the fastest shot, as timed between the hog lines.

"We had to go round up the 10 youngest players," Rick Lennon, a member of the organizing committee, said with a laugh yesterday when talking about the longest game. "Although one guy is in his early 50s; I don't know how he's going to do it."

The goal, Lennon said, is 44 hours and he added it has to be as close to a normal game as possible to suit Guinness -- no fewer than three members of the five-player teams must be on the ice at all times, no player can leave the building or be off the ice for longer than two hours and there must be sweeping between the hog lines.

"We started looking at this last April," Lennon said. "Someone -- I think it was Dave McDonald -- said he'd look at what the Guinness Book of Records had on curling and all it had was the longest and shortest games.

"The shortest game is probably going to be tougher, believe it or not, because it has to be a full eight-end game. You just can't play a bunch of blank ends by throwing stones through the rings."

As for the fastest shot, Lennon said special laser equipment has been brought in from Western. London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best will hold the first unoffical mark as she throws the first stone around 7:30 p.m. tonight.

Lennon said it's possible some of the curlers playing in the men's Grand Slam event in Kitchener might make the trip down the 401 to try their hand. One of them, Kevin Martin, was involved with the Alberta group that currently holds the longest-game mark.

There will also be a cocktail party for members tonight to celebrate milestone.

"It is an achievement," Lennon said of the half-century. "We've had some ups and down, but the curling section here has always proved it can carry its own. But it's weird -- though curling is probably promoted more on TV here than golf, we're struggling with attracting the 25- to 35-year-olds. We've got a strong little-rock and bantam program and our over-40 membership is still strong.

"It's amazing the number of people who tell you they watch curling on TV but have never played it."

Lennon said the on-ice activities will be open to the public to watch.


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