Princeton crew started off its 2014-15 season with a splash this past weekend at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, Mass. The men’s lightweight eight successfully defended its first place title. Additionally, the women’s lightweight four also powered its way to the top of the podium, cleanly beating the second place boat by more than 14 seconds.
In a statement to Princeton Athletic Communications, lightweight women’s head coach Paul Rassam said about his champions, “The plan was to row sharply and absorb that first mile of head wind and then step on the gas. Our splits shook out like that perfectly. It was the type of effort we expect from these athletes. Really mature.”
A second men’s lightweight eight entered the event finished eighth overall and first compared to the other “B” boats entered by collegiate teams.
Despite colliding with another crew at Anderson Bridge nearly two miles into the race, the women’s lightweight club four finished very respectably in 12thplace out of 85 boats. Rassam said, “To nearly make the top 10 after starting almost dead last is pretty tough on a twisty course like this. They had to pass a lot of crews.” The exaggerated curves over the roughly three-mile narrow course make the race as much a test of the coxswain’s skill as of the rowers’ strength. Collisions are common and often unavoidable.
In the final and much anticipated event of the weekend, the heavyweight Tigers took home ninth place overall in the championship eight event. Their competition included the U.S. national team, the best collegiate crews in the country and two “great eights” composed of the best 16 rowers and scullers hand-picked from around the world, among others. Two boats represented Princeton in the women’s championship eight category. Competing against 85 of the best women’s crews in the world, the “A” boat rounded out the top 10 and the “B” boat took home 16thplace.
When entering an event like that, a team’s confidence and poise under pressure can be called into question. Complicating matters were less than ideal conditions on the cold and windy course that Sunday afternoon. Despite these obstacles, the Tiger heavies put forth an excellent performance. Reflecting on the race, freshman Julian Goldman remarked, “I think we did a good job of staying confident throughout the course. Perhaps we could have done a better job finishing off the race as we came through Elliot Bridge, but for the first race of the season, we are certainly in a good place.”
Princeton rowing alumni represented the University last weekend as well. The Fat Cat Rowing Club entered eight boats across six events. “The alumni brought so much spirit to the Princeton trailer,” freshman Rebecca Singer said. “We all got to cheer for each other and support each other. Their presence really speaks to how tight of a community Princeton rowing is.”
Celebrating its 50thyear, the HOCR is one of the most storied and prestigious rowing events worldwide. The largest two-day regatta in the world, the HOCR attracts more than 9,000 competitors from 20 countries, 55 racing events and roughly 300,000 spectators every year. Like most races in the fall season, the HOCR is a head race where each boat is timed individually as it completes the course and then those times are compared across each event. The list of sponsors includes BNY Mellon, Brooks Brothers and Sperry Top-Sider, a nod to rowing’s tradition of catering to a preppy and upscale following.
Looking forward, Princeton crew anticipates strong performances first at the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta in Philadelphia, Pa., on Saturday and then at the Princeton Chase on Lake Carnegie this Sunday. The men's and women’s novice rowers will get their first opportunity to race at these events. The regatta features colleges from all over the county and around the Ivy League, and the Tiger heavyweights especially look forward to a second chance to challenge the championship crews from University of California, Berkley and Harvard University.