On Saturday, women’s crew competed against 16 teams in the New England Rowing Championships on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. The women were defending their five-year streak as NESCAC champions. Williams won gold in all four events, taking first overall. The day started morning heats to determine the order of the later finals.
The third varsity eight began the day with a solid first-place finish in its heat. The 3V used a helpful tailwind to walk all over the other crews in an aggressive race, winning their heat by 10 seconds and ensuring a spot in the Grand Final. The novice boat was the second to line up and flew down the course in a time of 6:53, also taking first in its heat. The second varsity boat continued the trend an hour later, crossing the line six seconds ahead of the field.
The 2V was followed by the 1V boat, which posted the largest winning margin over its competition, and topped its heat by more than 14 seconds. “In our heat, we raced against time standards, knowing that Williams had set a course record in similar or even more tailwind conditions but with an Olympian in the boat, and [we] were … energized by how close we were able to be to that time by the end of the race,” 1V coxswain Becca Licht ’11 said.
In the Grand Finals, the 3V was the first to take the line, rowing in a six-boat. Despite starting slightly down, the crew kept its cool and moved through the first meters even with the crew from Trinity. Around the 400-meter mark the women made a move and edged ahead, surprising the entire field. The boat managed to walk away with the race to capture the gold, finishing five seconds ahead of second-place Trinity. “The boat brought a whole new level of focus and aggressiveness,” 3V coxswain Liz Zhu ’11 said. “Trinity put up a tough fight, and it was amazing to see the entire boat respond so well.”
The novice Grand Final an hour later proved to be “a race that our frosh boat will remember,” novice coxswain Anna Hopkins ’14 said. Trinity led the novice race off the line, but around 300 meters in, Williams took 10 power strokes and managed to pull even with the lead boat.
Neck-and-neck, the Ephs then moved ahead one seat at a time until they were nearly bow to stern with the Bantams. In the last 500 meters, Trinity took an early sprint in an attempt to come from behind, but the novice women held them off and finished first. “It was a fight to the finish line with Trinity,” Hopkins said. “Our performance this weekend just makes us more excited to race and be challenged again next weekend.”
The 2V women were facing some of their toughest competition but came off the line strong and managed to lead the field down the course. “After a slightly rocky heat, the 2V turned out an excellent performance in the final,” 2V coxswain Fiona Wilkes ’12 said. “We made large strides today and can’t wait for next weekend’s ECAC Championships.” The 2V nabbed Williams’ third gold medal of the races, finishing the 2000 meters in 6:40.
The 1V used the tailwind to post a season best. “We emphasized a clean, fast start before walking away from the rest of the field,” stroke Emma Pelegri-O’Day ’12 said. Up from the start, the crew was untouchable, steadily increasing its lead until the finish line and finishing seven seconds ahead of second-place Bates. In winning every race they competed in, the women also took first overall in the team points competition.
On Saturday, the women will compete at ECAC Championships in Worcester, Mass.