In the top ten, the men’s and women’s rowing teams are successful at the annual Head of the Charles – The Bowdoin Orient

Courtesy Sydney Bonauto
WATER WARRIORS The women’s eight-person boat glides across the water during the head of Charles Regatta in Cambridge, Massachusetts last weekend. The boat, which has been Bowdoin’s first eight-person boat launch for women since 2012, took 28th place overall.

On Saturday and Sunday, October 23rd and 24th, the men’s and women’s rowing teams competed in the Head of Charles Regatta (HOCR) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The annual HOCR is the largest rowing regatta in the world and attracts over 11,000 participants. Athletes come from all over the world and can boast impressive athletic résumés and backgrounds.

“We saw the Canadian women’s national team win the gold medal [in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics] As we rowed down the course that same day, we saw sophomores in high school rowing for the first time, ”said the men’s captain, Ben Ross ’22. “[The HOCR] really brings [in] this wide range of people. I think the oldest participant was 85 years old. “

Due to the size of the event and the elite skills of many of the participants, competition is fierce.

“Winning a medal at HOCR is a big deal,” said Head Coach Doug Welling.

Both the men’s and women’s teams won a medal despite the high level of competition. Four of the eight boats that Bowdoin sent to the competition ended up in the top ten overall, including the men’s and women’s college fours, finishing third and seventh, respectively.

“[Our boat’s third place finish] was very exciting and, to be honest, it was something I didn’t take as an opportunity, ”said Ross.

The boat that brought Ross and his teammates to the podium is called Free Speed, a tribute to Henry Zietlow ’22, a rower who died in a car accident during his first year at Bowdoin.

“We drove around the Eliot bend, and so did our helmsman [Brandon Schuster ’23] said ‘You move for the six of us, you know why you are here, you know whose boat you are in.’ At the end of the race I tore myself apart. It was emotional getting this boat across the line, ”said Ross.

In addition, on Saturday, Bowdoin used a women’s boat for eight people for the first time since 2012 and finished in 28th place overall.

“They had a really strong race, but having a boat together symbolized the depth of the team,” said Welling.

Elizabeth Thomas ’24 echoed Wellings’ feelings.

“The women’s team was usually overshadowed by the men’s team, but now we have four different women’s boats on the college side and a lot of different beginner boats,” said Thomas. “The growth among women has been enormous.”

In a special class created to compensate for the HOCR’s cancellation last fall due to COVID-19 and to commemorate the return of the event, the 2020 men’s four-person boat finished second behind the Columbia University.

“[This year’s HOCR] was a little feast for the entire rowing community, ”said Assistant Coach Ry Hills.

But the celebration was not without its difficulties. All of these successes came on a circuit known to be grueling and intimidating.

“This race is a helmsman’s greatest nightmare and his greatest challenge. It is known that there are a lot of crashes, ”said Thomas.

As the boats fight for their position through the curves and under the bridges of the Charles River, the teammates must understand each other’s signals and move like a well-oiled machine.

“It takes a lot of communication with each other and with other boats, and careful attention to avoiding collisions,” said Ross.

College rowers also experienced a previously foreign level of intense competition, competing against athletes from elite Division I institutions such as Columbia University, Dartmouth College, and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

“It was definitely nerve-wracking, but it also gave us a lot of energy because you have to face this challenge,” said Thomas. “It’s amazing to be with elite rowers.”

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