Girls Crew Strong in First 500m; G1 and G2 Ruin Competition

With superior strength, Girls Varsity Crew team embarrassed the competition by finishing with a great lead over every other boat. Bow seat Morgan Broccoli ’07 explained, “The race felt really good. We had a very strong first 500 meters, which we have been working on, and we also sprinted the last 20 strokes for the first time. We started pulling ahead from the start, and had open water by the 500 – we never gave the other boats a chance.” Last Saturday, Andover competed in the Lowell Invitational against Cape Cod, Lowell, Hanover, Hingham, Concord and Boston Latin. To accommodate the full entry list in the first boat race, two preliminary heats were run. The top three finishers of each heat then progressed to the final. Only one heat took place in the second boat competition. A squad with established talent, the first boat set its goals for the day even higher than winning. Coxswain Rachel Rauh ’07 elaborated, “Our coach had told us that we were all but certainly the strongest and most fit team racing today, and that this race was not so much about beating the teams we raced, but about sending a message to St. Paul’s and Exeter by beating the toughest competition, Hanover and Boston Latin, by a ton.” She continued, “We went into the first race with the idea of winning it in the first 500, and then gradually taking the stroke rating down and focusing more on staying relaxed and long through the water.” And that is exactly what the girls did. By the 500-meter mark, they had open water on everyone. Taking the rating down, Andover crossed the finish line rowing around 26-27 strokes per minute – an extremely low rating. The boat tends to row races well over 30 strokes per minute. Despite its controlled and collected performance, Andover managed to complete the race over 20 seconds before second-place finisher Hanover. The first boat’s final race mirrored its first. After an incredibly fast start, Andover pulled further and further away from its competitors with each successive stroke. Again, it had open water by the 500-meter mark. In a contest more against itself than the trailing competition, the boat began mentally racing St. Paul’s and Exeter. With 20 strokes left, Andover powered out an explosive sprint to finish in 4:28, 14 seconds and over two boat lengths ahead of second place Hanover. Lowell crossed the line next in 4:47, followed by Boston Latin (4:48), Concord (4:57) and Great Bay (5:09.) Compared to last weekend’s choppy and dissatisfying performance, the boat felt transformed. The day truly served as a morale booster. “Both races felt smooth and really controlled and powerful. We face our top two competitors in the upcoming St. Paul’s and Exeter races, so it will be a tough two weeks, but we are feeling pretty confident right now and ready for them,” Rauh attested. Slightly discombobulated by the starter’s hurried commands, Andover’s second boat took five shaky strokes. After ten more, however, the girls found their rhythm and power. Rowing at a high rating of 30 strokes per minute, Andover easily pulled away from most of the competition; only Hanover managed to stay a few seats behind. By the 500-meter mark, with both schools over a boat length ahead of the rest of the field, the race had clearly narrowed down to a dual. Andover maintained its slight advantage until roughly the last 100 meters when coxswain Sardis Howard ’08 called for a sprint. The boat responded, widening its lead to a seven second gap and open water by the time it crossed the finish line. Concord finished eight seconds behind second place Hanover, followed by Boston Latin, Lowell, Hingham and Cape Cod respectively. Due to trouble lining up all seven boats, the race began about 200 meters below the starting line. Thus, the race shortened from a 1500 meter piece to 1300 meters so the times were unusually fast (Andover finished in 3:58.) With both boats attaining wins, Coach Kathryn Green could not have been much more pleased: “After a tough week of practice and midterm stress, the girls truly defined resilience and determination. “The boats’ performances improved drastically over last week’s. I am eager to see what they can do against perennial powerhouse St. Paul’s on Saturday.”