The 2010 Head of the Charles kicked off Saturday morning with a chilly wind, 45 degree temps, and a deceptive sun fooling folks inside hotel rooms. "Nah, I won't need that extras jacket...look at it outside!"
Yes, the sun was delightful and for the most part, conditions were fine for racing Saturday. It wasn't even close to the cold and snow last year on Sunday. But the extra jacket would be helpful, the wind was bitter.
The basin was choppy (big surprise) but the wind that funneled through the bridges produced some humerous oar-grabbers as the day progressed. The railroad/BU bridge duo produced churning water like a liquid treadmill. Not much speed generation there. Coaches were reviewing headwind technique at trailers across FALS today.
The masters boats didn't really need coach advice, right? They are MASTERS. And there were some very experienced oarsmen and women in the masters ranks Saturday. Rolodex crews abound, former National-teamers and Olympians (too many to name), and late students of the sport took oars in hand several times today. Early on Team Attager (for those who haven't noticed that is Regatta backwards, those clever guys.) in the Grand Masters Eights took the field by 30 seconds against some pretty sturdy crews. Note that regatta director Fred Schoch was not in the Attager boat this year for medical reasons. Palm Beach Rowing Club was second, Leander Boat Club third, and the 1980 Rowing Culb fourth.
In the women's senior master's eights, the winning BMA Club won with a coach in four seat, which was convenient given her strength. Cornell's alumni boat, with a Cornell moniker/motto that dates back to post WWII, "Best Man Afloat," was today the "Best Women (over 40) Afloat." The coach onboard was Hillary Gehman, who leads the Women's Varsity at Cornell and pulled sculling oars in the Olympics as well. Andrea Thies was in front of her, another former Olympian. They crushed the field from mid-pack to win by 17 seconds. Gehman was quick to point out that she did not row at Cornell, and felt a little bad about filling a seat...she hails from Colby College, after all, but they didn't have an alum boat at the Charles. Second to BMA boat was an entry from Canada, Toronto Sculling Club, which was filled with former Canuck Olympians. They rowed on the square, all eight, back to the dock. It made a couple masters women's crew take note as they waited to turn. Not every crew can do this, especially after a race.
In the Men's Senior Masters, similar stone soup boats abound, with the third-place crew of Wide Load BC filled with the former members of a Dutch Olympic four, and 2 guys from the 1996 US Olympic four. They trailed RV Rijnland and Kennebecasis BC.
The Championship Singles lacked some intensity with many of the top national team scullers already in New Zealand for the World Championships. Gevvie Stone, having just missed her bid to be the Women's Single at the World trials in September by a split second to Lindsay Meyer, led the pack today and won by 30 seconds on her home course. She had the #1 bow from last year, and open up some distance on the field by the Harvard boathouses. She looked strong and comfortable out there on the Charles, we'll see more of Gevvie in coming years, unless she goes back to medical school full-tilt. Her father Gregg Stone rowed earlier in the Grand-Master Singles and came in fifth.
In the Men's Champ Singles Michael Sivigny of GMS Rowing Center led long-time top German sculler Marcel Hacker (who rowed in the "Great Eight" and the Champ doubles last year) by five seconds. Michael Perry of the Dolphin Club was a little over a second behind.
More racing news Sunday, check back to row2k and check out the galleries too.
Change in Focus
From racing to fundraising, seems collegiate rowers have a competitive spirit...Brown Rower Dan Aziz is banking on it. Last year Brown varsity rower Aziz raised nearly $40,000 for Breast Cancer Awareness with his team. This year he challenged other programs to get involved. Yale, Princeton, Brown, Georgetown, Holy Cross, Penn State reached out to alumni, friends and family to help support thier cause. Many of the students spoken to, like Caroline Nash Yale Varsity Women's Captain here, said it was nice for somewhat self-focused students to direct some energy somewhere besides book, sports and social life.
Penn State Pull for the Cure organizer Nick D'Imperio said that his club team in Central Pennsylvania does not have the vast alumni network of the Ivy Leagues involved, but they managed to raise about $5,000 regardless. State College is a huge student body, but not many kids are going to give up their fun money for cancer research. Sophomore rower D'Imperio also motivated the team to reach out to the non-campus community and families, and hopes to "go bigger" next year. This was his first trip to Boston as a rower (in Collegiate Fours). This former Monsignor Bonner High School rower trained over the summer with fellow Bonner alum and current Brown rower Jim McLaughlin who spoke about the Pull for a Cure fundraiser. D'Imperio contacted him later in the year to join the competition.
Dan Aziz had a trophy made for the team who raises the most money (right now it is his own school, Brown) and is holding a presentation at the American Legion Post on the Cambridge Side by Eliot Bridge tomorrow after the Champ Eights, where many crews will have some pink on their bodies. Stop by to support the Pull for a Cure.
Fingers crossed for less wind tomorrow!