Boston, MA—Williams Crew traveled to Boston this weekend for the 54th annual Head of the Charles Regatta. The regatta is the highlight of the fall racing season, and draws crews from not just around the country but around the world. Rowers and hundreds of thousands of spectators come to Boston for the weekend each October to participate in the historic race.
This year Williams had two entries in the regatta, boats in the Collegiate Eight and Collegiate Four. In addition to current undergraduates, Williams had numerous alumni crews competing in alumni and masters events.
First up, the Varsity Eight raced in what was the first Head of the Charles for many members of the crew. Seeded sixteenth, the Ephs were in a strong position to hunt down crews ahead of them. Strong winds blustered through the Charles River Basin and down the length of the course, catching oars and knocking crews off balance. The challenging conditions were familiar but still challenging to Williams, who routinely face such conditions and worse on Onota Lake.
Williams quickly hunted down Marietta as they turned around Magazine Beach, setting their sights ahead for the powerhouse stretch. At the end of the stretch, coxswain Piper Higgins '21 handled the challenging turns of the course well; a valuable skill honed during her time coxing on the river for Community Rowing. Coming around Eliot Bridge to the finishing stretch, the crowds grew and the Williams faithful let their voices be heard from the shore. In the final straightaway to the line, Williams battled fiercely with rivals Wesleyan, both crews laying out the last of their energy reserves to cross the finish line. Williams finished in 15th with a time of 16:50, good for second in the NESCAC behind Wesleyan.
Ian Pultz-Earle '21 thought Williams had some strong moments, and other moments to learn from: "I think the headwind created some issues with rhythm and composure at times, but we also had some good moments, including the end. We were much less consistent throughout the race as we usually are, but some of that was probably due to the conditions. Overall it was a good experience, being the first time at the Charles for most of us. Piper [Higgins] also did a great job coxing."
In the Collegiate Fours, Williams had its first entry in the event in recent memory. Williams raced bow number 24. Because they were in the unseeded part of the starting order, Williams dealt with a crowded course as they had to work their way through many slower boats with lower bow numbers. Here Coxswain Alison Robey '20 earned her ride down the river as she expertly steered the Ephs through the crews her crew overtook, while also handling the tight turns of the river. Williams finished 22nd in a time of 19:55.
Matthew Schleifman '21 thought that "it was a solid race. We struggled with the conditions in the first half, but we were able to get it together later and hold off a few other crews."
Williams will close out their fall season next Saturday at the Head of the Fish regatta in Saratoga, New York.