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HOCR Saturday: Sivigny Puts US Back at Head of river; Grobler-James Light Touch Takes It
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Ed Hewitt, row2k.com
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Ursula Grobler James

Mike Sivigny

The Head Of the Charles title in the men's single came down to a buoy violation, and a disputed one at that, but in the end cooler Kiwi heads prevailed, and Mike Sivigny took the title. In the women's single, a South African lightweight within three kilos of FISA weight threaded through the field from the 19th starting position to edge Gevvie Stone by about a length.

Sivigny becomes the first American to win the event since Don Smith in 1999. Cohen was trying to be the first to repeat in the event since Duncan Free pulled it off in 2001 and 2002. Figuring out if he had won must have been like emotional whiplash for a couple hours.

Apparently defending champ Nathan Cohen hit a buoy near the Riverside Boathouse, which ultimately cost him a repeat win in the Champ single. A debate persisted well into the dark of night over the violation; some accounts said the buoy was submerged before Trott ran it over, others said that it became submerged when Cohen ran it over.

"I thought when I finished that I caught Nathan, based on our finish positions," Sivigny said after the race, "but when I got off the water a colleague told me I got 2nd.
Then three or four minutes later I heard Nathan got a buoy violation, and I had taken it."

Cohen did not recall missing a buoy, but in the end took the high road and decided not to file a protest, and Sivigny was named Head of the river. "Obviously I'm very disappointed, but it's all part of it," he said. Lassi Karonen of Sweden snuck into the gap between Sivigny and the penalized Cohen to take second.

Women's single winner Ursula Grobler James is lightweight oarswomen of South African ciizenship who lives and learned to row in Seattle. Grobler James is married to an American, and is in the process of obtaining citizenship in and permission to race for the United States. In the meantime, she was allowed to row for Spain in the lightweight double in the World Cup this past summer, where she placed second with partner Teresa Mas de Xaxars. Much like Stone did last year, Grobler James started in the middle of the pack at 19th position, and threaded her way through the field to the win.

"It's definitely good to be an unknown because you don't have the pressure," she said after the race.

Despite a cross-headwind in the Powerhouse stretch, a couple course records fell today: the Etats Unis women moved up to the 50+ masters class this year, and crushed the course record by over 15 seconds on raw time; even after a 10 second buoy violation, they still beat it by five seconds.

Fordham University set the course record in the collegiate men's four by just under 10 seconds; second place went to Notre Dame, who in turn missed besting the old course record by 0.148.

In the women's Champ doubles, the Olympic double of Megan Kalmoe and Ellen Tomek "finally got to row together at the Charles," as one wrote us before the regatta, and took the race by an insane whopping 43 seconds. In the men's double, the Graves brothers bested a ridiculously talented and medaled field including, well, everyone.

Boston is a different town when the Red Sox are out of the playoffs - hocr director of media relations Jim Connelly said that while the interest from the print media is pretty steady year after year, this year the television folks have swarmed the regatta like never before. Last night every television station had a dedicated spot about the regatta. "There is always something, but some years it is buried in the weather slot," he said. "This year, everyone is interested in the regatta." Even Bosox die-hard rental car shuttle drivers were talking about the regatta.

Up at the starting line at the BU dock, the first song of to Sweet caroline, then the national anthem. Yeah Boston.

For most of the day, sunny skies brought in a goodly headwind in the long powerhouse stretch, really from Magazine Beach all the way to Weeks. This kind of headwind can take such a toll early on that by the time it turns into a tailwind at the finish, there's often not much the rowers can do with it - it's more a mercy wind than something you can ride.

Taking a barely post-dawn break from coaching his charges, Westminster coach Ian Pritchard ran the course in the single in the morning. "It wouldn't seem right to have your athletes come all this way to race, and not to do it yourself as well," he said after the race. Asked about how his row went, he expressed a sentiment familiar to many coaches after rowing the single early Saturday. "It was okay," he said. "When you spend 90 minutes in the launch, and you're dehydrated, cold and stiff, it's hard to muster the enthusiasm for your own row. It would have been a shame not to row, but the priority really is your responsibility to the crew you are coaching."

Charlie Hamlin is rowing in three events again this year: the senior masters eight with Team Attager (which they won this morning for the fourth year running), the parent/child double with his son (which they won last year, making Charlie perhaps the only person ever to enjoy two Bow #1 starting spots in one day), and the Director's Quad tomorrow afternoon (which he calls his "happy row," if that is an appropriate term for a third three-miler in two days). We'll have a short video interview with Charlie online soon.

In the master eights, putative winner Kent Mitchell Rowing Club ended up being disqualified after making a substitution into the boat that did not jibe with the rulebook. That gave the win to Penn AC, followed by RV Rijnland, which included a number of the members of the 1996 Netherlands Olympic gold medal eight. They were followed by Molesey, which included the Searle brothers and Matt Pinsent, among others; a couple of them seemed unexcited to stay the least by the outcome once results were posted.

If they train together as well as work together, BU head coach Tom Bohrer and BU boatman Russ Cone must have some gnarly piece days; in the 40+ men's single, Cone shadowed Bohrer by a mere three seconds over the course.

An earlier version of this article stated that Ursula Grobler James was applying for citizenship in Spain; row2k regrets the error.


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10/29/2009  3:30:09 PM
Beautifully written article. Kudos to the HOCR volunteers. ~ StoneBoat

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