PITTSFIELD, MA— The Williams women got to race on their home course in the 50th annual Little Three Regatta this Saturday. For the first time in recent history, Amherst participated in the event, fielding two eights. Wesleyan raced three women's eights, and the Williams women had four full eights. It was a balmy 43 degrees at race time, and a steady wind picked up over the course of the day. Having practiced in gusts, white-capped waves, and snow all week, the Eph women expected nothing less.
The 1V was the first boat on the course. Coxswain Louisa Abel, stroke seat Caroline Kessler, Eileen Russell, Diana Matthiesen, Maddy Boutet, Sam Lazar, Katrina Wheelan, and captains Clara Beery and Bertie Miller took on Wesleyan and Amherst. The women finished in second place with a time of 6:54.84; they were just one second behind Wesleyan.
The 2V, composed of coxswain Ava Palmo, stroke seat Fiona Yonkman, Kate Latimore, Annie Rush, Julia Mini, Katherine Melkonian, Stephanie Brown, Masa Peterson, and Brynn Moynihan, set out to turn things in their favor. They finished in first place, with a time of 7:11.11, ten seconds ahead of Wesleyan. Junior Kate Latimore noted: "It's exciting to race on our home course and we channeled that excitement really effectively and let it carry us through the finish line. It was great to have both Amherst and Wesleyan there for competition. Racing against them, we found a new level of speed and unity and we're excited for the rest of the season."
Brittany Chung coxed Emily Saulnier, Harper Johnson, Anna Bruce, Josie Maynard, Betsy Button, Abi Matthew, Sarah Yang, and Ria Hanson in the 3V race. Senior bow seat Ria Hanson summarized the race: "After a quick start, we were able to find a really strong rhythm, taking advantage of the calmer water in the first 1000 meters and gaining open water over Wesleyan. The wind picked up in the third 500 and Wesleyan put up a good fight, but ultimately we were able to execute a successful sprint, carrying our bow ball through the finish line with a solid lead." The Williams crew finished with a time of 7:33.49, six seconds ahead of Wesleyan. Amherst did not field a 3V. The conditions deteriorated throughout the day, but Ria kept some perspective and some hope for the future, saying "it was fun to race in better conditions than we've had to practice in, and I'm excited to see what we can accomplish as the water warms up and we get really locked in as a boat!"
Taking on the worst conditions of the day but no crews from visiting schools, the women's 4V went up against the Williams men's freshmen four. Strong gusts and a steady cross-wind made a proper line-up impossible, so the boats settled for a quick, floating start a few meters off of the start line, with the men's four starting ahead. Sophomore coxswain Tiffany Tien had a challenge ahead of her trying to keep the boat steering straight and the women motivated in the wind, but she proved to be up to the challenge. "We made a lot of improvements from our last race and our practice pieces this week, putting together a strong race from start to finish," commented senior Grace McCabe. "We had an awesome sprint and found a lot of speed towards the end, so I'm excited to work on bringing that energy earlier in the race next time." The other rowers agreed that it was the best the boat had felt all week, and the 4V finished with a time of 7:50.59, just four seconds behind the men's boat.
All boats will now focus on preparing for the New England Rowing Championships on May 5th, where they will face off against Wesleyan, Bates, Wellesley, and all other rival New England crews. The lack of race this weekend will allow the women to have more practice time on the water, honing internal rhythm, unity, and boat speed.