Men’s crew anticipates competitive fall season

Men’s crew returns 30 varsity members this year for the largest team in decades. With the addition of a great group of athletic and energetic walk-on first-years, the team is looking to field three competitive varsity eights and two boats of novice first-years.

The varsity team has three time-trial format headraces this fall – the Head of the Genesee, the Head of the Charles and the Princeton Chase. Fall racing distances typically fall between four and five kilometers.

The Ephs start the season this Saturday at the Head of the Genesee in Rochester, NY, where they will face Syracuse, Hobart, Ithaca and St. Lawrence. This regatta has a unique format with a 4k headrace in the morning and a 1200-meter sprint in the early afternoon. Winners are determined by adding the afternoon sprint time to the morning 4k time in this cummulative time trial.

Hobart and Ithaca are both highly competitive Div. III crew teams that the men will see at ECACs – the National Championship for men’s crew – in the spring.

The next race is the Head of the Charles in Boston, Mass. The Charles is the largest regatta in the world and the focal point for the Ephs. Williams is the only club to have three boats entered in the collegiate eight event that has a total of 44 boats competing. The top two slots were obtained through automatic qualification from the year prior – which required a top-20 finish – and the third was obtained through a lottery. The Ephs placed fourth, 15th and 28th last year, which was a great result, but it could be improved upon. Additionally, this year is the 50th anniversary of the Charles, so the environment will be prime for a good showing.

The men will cap their season off at the Princeton Chase against all of the top programs in Div. I. The Ephs had a strong showing from the first boat last year with a 14th-place finish ahead of many Div. I crews. This year, the team is taking all three boats and hopes to represent Div. III rowing well on the larger stage.

The Ephs are led by Head Coach Peter Wells ’79 who is entering his 33rd year coaching the crew. Wells is assisted by First-Year & Assistant Coach Joe Gartland, who is in his second year at the College.

The captains for 2014-15 are Sam Chapin ’15 and Peter Awad ’15. They are supported by a large group of seniors including Neeko Gardner ’15, Alexander Nanda ’15, Isaiah Clark ’15, Connor McLane ’15 and coxswain Maggie Hughes ’15. Additionally, the Ephs have three seniors – Marshall Akita ’15, Philip von Hahn ’15 and Aidyn Osgood ’15 – returning from a full year abroad at Exeter College at Oxford University in the UK. At 10 deep, the senior class provides critical leadership throughout all levels of the program.

The crew benefited from a nearly 100-percent retention of last season’s first-year class, which includes the National Champion first-year boat. Combined with the few juniors not abroad and a couple of experienced first-years, the Ephs plan to launch three experienced boats this fall.

“We’ve had some really productive weeks of practice,” Chapin said. “We’re all very excited to compete with some very fast crews in the weeks to come.”

“With so many strong guys, the challenge is to sort out who moves boats the best,” Awad added. “I think we will see some really good results this year.”

Additional reporting by

Luke Rodino, Sports Editor