CAMBRIDGE, MA - The team opened its head racing season this Sunday, October 22, at the Head of the Charles in Boston. This year, Williams women's crew sent two boats (a 1V eight and a four) to compete. The 1V pulled out a repeat performance of last year's third place finish in the collegiate eights division, with Bates and Wesleyan snagging the first and second place finishes this year. The four placed eighth in their category.
The Head of the Charles boasts a grueling three-mile race course, featuring six bridges and multiple turns that the coxswains in each boat must navigate. Steering is an extremely important factor on the curving course, and each coxswain does their best to give their boat the inside line and the best chance at chasing down other crews on the course. The rowers just give it everything they can muster for 4,800 meters.
Today, the eight raced first, charged with setting the tone for the Ephs. The boat, composed of Eileen Russell, Caroline Kessler, Rebecca Smith, Julia Mini, Sam Lazar, Maddy Boutet, Clara Beery, Bertie Miller and coxswain Louisa Abel, came up with a finish time of 16:34.6. The girls clinched a third place finish.
Senior captains and 1V bow pair Bertie Miller and Clara Beery worked together, as they always do, to comment: "We have no regrets from today—this race was an exciting building block to spring season. Everyone who got to compete put down solid strokes and we got to see some payoff from all our work thus far. We're amped and ready to keep finding speed and working hard!"
The fours started down the course about thirty minutes after the collegiate eights. Freshman Brynn Moynihan, sophomores Stephanie Brown and Fiona Yonkman, and junior Annie Rush rowed in the Williams four with senior Brittany Chung in the coxswain seat. Starting third, the girls had a goal of staying relaxed and finding easy speed through rowing together. Despite being such a young boat, the Williams crew showed incredible maturity in the midst of unforeseen obstacles. The tricky Boston conditions presented a tough headwind, making a long course feel longer. About 600 meters into the race, right as the crew was about to enter the famous Powerhouse Stretch—the longest straight stretch on the Charles and the most optimal portion for passing other boats—the boat's coxbox lost power, meaning that Brittany Chung had no microphone to rely on to amplify her voice as she motivated her rowers. Committed to executing their race plan, the four finished with a time of 18:45.5, just 25 seconds behind first place in a tight pack of top-ten finishers.
Mirroring the satisfied sentiments of her captains, two-seat Annie Rush said: "We don't get a lot of racing opportunities in the fall, so today was a great chance to practice racing with the intensity and focus we want to bring to our spring season. I was really proud of the maturity our boat demonstrated."
The women will close out their fall racing next Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Head of the Fish in Saratoga, NY. All members of the team will be racing in a variety of events, and it will be the racing debut for this year's novice boat.