Boston, MA -- Men's crew traveled to the Charles River in Boston for the 53rd annual Head of the Charles Regatta this weekend. The Head of the Charles is the biggest rowing race in the world in terms of participants, with over 10,000 athletes competing from over thirty different countries.
The Head of the Charles is a 3-mile head style race in which crews are sent off at 15 second intervals time trial style. The course features numerous turns for crews to maneuver as the course travels from the Charles River Basin in the heart of the city out to the finish line along Christian A Herter Park.
Technical mastery has been a large point of emphasis for the crew throughout the fall and it continued to be so as the Ephs tested their improved technique against other crews. Besides technical mastery, the Ephs also made a point of staying internal among the chaos that is a hallmark of the massive regatta.
The Ephs lined up as bow 10, based on last year's performance, in the collegiate eight event. After practicing their builds into headwinds earlier in the weekend, the Ephs nailed their start past the BU boathouse and came flying under the BU bridge, past Magazine Beach, and onto the powerhouse stretch of the course. The powerhouse stretch is the longest straight section of the course where crews traditionally try to make moves on other boats.
The wind in the powerhouse stretch shifted unexpectedly on the Ephs, but they handled the adversity professionally and continued to flow well under the challenging conditions. The powerhouse stretch concludes with the sharp turn under Weeks footbridge, which senior coxswain Devin Flynn took perfectly. His line through Weeks allowed the Ephs to push back Bucknell and make up time on the rest of the field.
After Weeks the Ephs really began to find their groove and put distance between them and Bucknell who was trailing. Devin Flynn continued to steer immaculate lines which earned him praise from commentators on the official live stream. As the Ephs shot out of Eliot bridge and through the final turn the rate began to creep up, first to 34 then to 36, as the Ephs sensed the approaching finish line. Carried on by adrenaline, the Ephs powered cleanly through the line to conclude a technically well executed piece in a time of 14:57 for 16th place. University of Virginia won the race in a course record of 14:24. In fact, the top 3 finishing crews all broke the previous course record.
Senior captain and 7 seat Sam Ellison was proud of the way that the young crew carried themselves, and felt that they demonstrated a strong technical foundation which can be built upon for the spring: "For a young crew, we stayed true to our technical form throughout the piece, a testament to Marc's [Mandel]work as coach. Our biggest area for improvement is our fitness. I'm proud of the feel we had today, and excited to hurt in the best way this winter training." If the young Ephs are able layer a high level of fitness on top of their technical foundation, this crew will be able to accomplish great things come spring time.
Senior coxswain Devin Flynn believed that his crew stayed professional and carried themselves well: "We rowed within ourselves and handled a surprise shift in the wind well. [We] attacked the second half of the race coming out of Weeks Bridge and pushed away from a charging Bucknell crew".
The Ephs will be back in action next Sunday to close out their season at the Princeton Chase in New Jersey. Additionally, the Ephs other varsity and novice boats will see their first action of the year at the Head of the Fish on Saturday in Saratoga Springs, New York.