Boston, MA—The Ephs caught 4:00am vans out of Williamstown Saturday morning to travel down to the CRI boathouse in Boston, MA for the relocated Donahue Cup. Typically taking place on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, MA, the race was moved to the Charles River Basin in Boston due to ice on the lake.
Races were originally scheduled to start at 10am, but were moved earlier due to wind. The Basin treated all racers to 20+ mph headwinds and white cap waves of nearly 2 feet. Considering the gunnels of the sleek rowing shells are very low this caused a significant problem for the rowers. The result was swamped boats and significantly slower times with the 1V posting a 7:07.8, over a minute longer than normal, and the 2V posting a time of 8:13.8, which is over 30% longer than in calm conditions. It is fair to say that this was no ordinary race.
The 1V was the first to race at 8:50am against MIT and WPI. Facing extreme chop at the start all boats got out to rickety starts, but MIT was able to surge ahead for a 4-seat advantage. The Ephs rebuffed any further attempt by the Engineers to gain an advantage through the middle thousand and took a couple seats back. As the water calmed marginally in the last 400m, the Engineers were able to pull a few seats back through the finish for a 2.9s final margin. The finishing times were MIT 7:04.9, Williams 7:07.8, and WPI 7:22.1.
The 2V and 1F combined races against WPI's 2V and 3V due to high demand for race slots. Though seemingly impossible, the conditions worsened in the 40 minutes between races. From the start, the WPI 2V rocketed out to a lead ahead of the Ephs and maintained the margin as all boats fought to stay afloat. The final times were WPI 2V 7:53.2, Williams 2V 8:13.8, Williams 1F 8:30.9, WPI 3V 9:49.1.
"In situations like these you just have to show up and fight your way down the course," comments co-captain Sam Chapin. "No one can row well in these conditions, so it's all about grinding it out, showing some grit, and staying composed. Unfortunately the result wasn't exactly what we wanted, but it was quite the character building experience."
The Ephs will not see MIT again until this time next year, but they will see WPI at New England's and ECACs. The Little Three regatta against Wesleyan is scheduled for this weekend, but the location is still TBD pending ice melt and river flow.