Last weekend, women’s crew competed in the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, one of the largest regattas in the world. As defending champions in the women’s collegiate eight division, the women had been training hard to prepare for the weekend throughout the fall season. On Friday, the team traveled to Boston in order to row the challenging course a few times prior to the race on Sunday. In Sunday’s race, the 1V claimed first in the collegiate eight division by 21 seconds, and the 2V earned sixth in the division.
At the beginning of the race, the women were contending with a strong headwind, which gradually gave way to calm racing conditions that were conducive to achieving fast times.
“We raced well despite headwind conditions and took advantage of flat water when we had it,” co-captain Sydney Tooze ’12 said.
The 1V got off the line first in the collegiate eight, one of the last events in the two-day regatta. The team kept its focus throughout the race and continued to push hard despite enjoying a sizeable lead over the competition.
“We had an ideal execution of our race plan, with a very internal race,” Fiona Wilkes ’12, 1V coxswain, said. “We had the added challenge of not seeing any other crews on the course and stepped up to handle that reality with poise. We focused on the good, clean rowing that has been a hallmark of the Williams 1V.”
The 1V finished the course in 16:57.0, a substantial 21 seconds ahead of second-place Bates, which crossed the line in 17:18.51. The women were also 24.79 seconds ahead of third-place finisher and rival Grand Valley State.
“Winning the Head of the Charles is a huge accomplishment for our team,” Tooze said. “It’s the biggest race of our fall season, and our win today speaks to the strength of our team.”
The women’s 2V started in bow position 21 in the collegiate eight division. From this position further back, the boat took the opportunity to pass three boats over the length of the course. The 2V finished in a time of 17:43.35, less than 50 seconds behind the 1V boat, and took sixth place out of the 29 competing boats. The result granted the team redemption after the 2V’s performance in 2010, when the crew had to stop to disentangle an oar that had gotten stuck on a buoy and finished 30th in a disappointing time of 19:03.49.
“It was an exciting race from start to finish [as] we passed three boats,” Anna Hopkins ’14, 2V coxswain, said.
Last weekend was a very successful weekend for new Head Coach Kate Maloney, who joined the women at the beginning of this season. The win gives the team some confidence heading into a full winter of training in preparation for the spring racing season.
The women will race next Sunday at the Head of the Fish in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. This competition will be the first race for the novice women.
“Our novice women are excited to get on the water and prove what they can do after their training this season,” Tooze said.
The Head of the Fish will be the team’s final race on the docket in the brief fall distance season, which includes only three races.