Watching one club win both Youth Singles is rare enough at the Charles, but seeing it done by one of the smaller sculling clubs—Long Island’s Oak Neck Rowing Academy—is even rarer. Today at the Charles, though, Catherine Barry came down the river ahead of the field in the Women’s Youth Single, right after her teammate Henry Davison did the same in the Youth Men’s Single.
Their club has seen success in the Youth Singles before—a win by Nicholas Aronow in 2019 and a silver for Barry’s older sister Ella last year—but their facilities consist mainly of shipping containers, and they do a lot of wet launching and outdoor erging. Nonetheless, the work they have done in their singles has paid off handsomely for both Barry and Davison; both are undefeated this season and can now call themselves Head of the Charles.
Barry, who represented the US in the Double at Junior World this past summer, credited her course, which was tight enough to even survive a near misadventure and to keep her in first place the whole way:
“I had the course pretty much memorized, and I knew where I wanted to go,” she said.
“I raced here last year, and my partner that I rowed with at Worlds [Hannah Peters, eds.] was from Cambridge Boat Club. I got to row the course a few times with her in the double during the summer, so I definitely knew it a little bit better from that.
"There were a few mishaps: I hit a tree, but I recovered quickly, and I also came under one of the bridges with another girl. I knew her, so it was fine: we just sorted it out--it was very social."
Planning was the key to Davison's win, and he led at every marker after starting with Bow number 4 despite a valiant chase by the 2022 Youth Nationals champ, Devan Godfrey, way back in the pack.
“I tried to structure the race in a way that complimented the distance of the course," Davison said.
"I broke down the rates by bridge: every bridge, I would either pick up the rate to do a Power 10 or settle in to a slightly lower rate, with a focus on power. I think that worked well in the straights and in the corners.
"I tried to keep the rate up in the turns, and I was able to manage my energy and the speed efficiently. I wasn't thinking about it that analytically in the boat, of course, but it worked out that way.
"I didn't spend myself in the Powerhouse Stretch, which is sometimes tempting to do because it's a straightaway."
The straightaways were part of Barry's strategy.
"My key going into the race was, whenever I do get those straightaways, to keep my head forward: fix my point maybe once but then just keep my head forward and go," she said. "That was pretty key for me just because there are a lot of turns and sometimes it's a little hard to steer them, so when you get those opportunities, it's good to take advantage."
Both could tell they were having a good "go" at the course as their race unfolded.
For Davison, "the different segments of the race flowed nicely into each other and it didn't feel like a choppy race plan. The turns flowed into the straights and it just had this uniform feeling about it."
Their undefeated falls thus far--coach Amadeusz Pietrzak joked that the pair are "golden geese" this year, laying down wins--did up the ante as they got ready to race the bigger stage of the Charles.
"I was definitely pretty stressed this morning," admitted Barry. "Usually before a race, I'm pretty calm. I don't get too worked up about racing, which I think is something that is usually is good for me. I was definitely more nervous this morning than I usually am, but I think sometimes that's good. It helps me get in race mode."
"There was a bit more pressure going into this race," said Davison, "because there are so many high caliber rowers from all across the country, like Devan Godfrey, who is very fast. When you do these local head races in the northeast, it's exclusively northeastern rowers and you know them a bit better. But there are a lot of kids who you don't necessarily know as well when you're going into a bigger regatta like this.
"It was a mix of pressure, and the unknown."
How does a small club turn out both HOCR singles champs?
"It's just a smaller, more intimate group of kids. It's not like the big industrial programs that pump out these these legions of rowers, where you can configure different eights or team boats. You have to stick to the smaller boats when you have a small program like that.
"We row in saltwater. We don't have a dock. We don't have a boathouse. So all of those different components build character. Having a Polish coach also builds character!"
The club, to include its previous medal winners now off in college, is also very supportive - Barry mentioned getting text messages from both her sister and 2019 winner Aronow when she got back to the trailer.
"Even though I'm in the single," said Barry, "I can always feel the rest of the team with me, and I want to win for [Coach] Amadeusz and I want to win for my teammates. We have a really good culture of everyone pushing each other; we have all these fast kids who just like lining up together every day. Maybe it's only five of us, but everyone's really fast and everyone's pushing each other. On the water, we're really competitive, but then off the water we're friends, and that's a really good way for everyone to push each other."
|Log in to comment|
10/28/2022 11:51:50 AM