Shelton, CT—The Ephs made the trip to the Housatonic River in Shelton, CT for their first race of the fall season. The Head of the Housatonic brought teams from both IRA and non-IRA divisions to race on the 5.2km course. Men's rowing is not an NCAA sport so teams are often divided into IRA and non-IRA or, at the Head of the Charles, Championship and Collegiate divisions. The IRA division is composed of traditional rowing powerhouses like the Ivies and Washington University, whereas the non-IRA division includes NESCAC schools and large club teams like of UVa, Michigan and Notre Dame.
The Ephs entered their first varsity boat into the IRA division to measure themselves against the Yale lightweight and heavyweight boats and St. Joe's out of Philly. The first boat came in 5th with a time of 14:03.34 that put them behind the top two Yale heavies and lights. This year's performance is a regression from last year's outing, however, the Ephs were working with a young and inexperienced lineup compared to years past. "This race was our first time in these line-ups and we fared well minus a few hiccups," comments co-captain Zach Tarlow. "We will head into these next two weeks with a goal of ironing out the kinks before the Charles."
The Ephs' second varsity boat fulfilled expectations placing second in the non-IRA division, losing out only to Wesleyan's first varsity boat. The boat posted a time of 14:26.15. "I think we executed well in most aspects of the race, but there are a few areas where we could shave off some significant time with improvements," says stroke and co-captain John Gorman.
The best news of the day came with the success of the third varsity boat that rowed to a 5th place finish in a time of 14:58.22, which put them only 32 seconds off the 2V and 55 seconds off the 1V. "I was excited about the 3V's race today and it is nice to see such depth on our team," notes head coach Peter Wells. "Our priority now is on putting out the fastest top boats we can for the Charles."
The Ephs chose to enter four 4's boats to get extra time and experience on the water, with two entered in the IRA and two in the non-IRA divisions. Williams does not race fours often and the lack of experience in the boats showed. The best performing four for the Ephs was the "lightweight" boat composed of Connor McLane, Parker Finch, Neeko Gardner, and Peter Ellis. They cleared the field in the non-IRA event by almost 20 seconds clocking in at 15:58.27, the best time of the day for Williams fours. The other boats followed with times of 16:01.43, 16:26.00, and 17:09.57.
The novice 8 boat, primarily composed of walk-on freshmen who have only been rowing for four weeks, posted a solid time of 16:36.90 in 8th place behind the likes of Yale and Brown.
Overall, the racing at the Housatonic left something to be desired, but rowers and coaches alike took away a lot of information on how to increase boat speed. If nothing else, rowers endured a brutal workout with most athletes rowing twice and a few rowing three times. The Ephs have next weekend off from racing as they spend the next two weeks gearing up for the all-important Head of the Charles. The Ephs will field two boats in the Collegiate Eight event at the Charles River in Boston, MA on Sunday, October 21st.