Eight Andover rowers and two coxswains joined more than 11,000 athletes to compete this Sunday at the historic and famous Head of the Charles Regatta in Cambridge, Mass. Andover Crew showed its mettle in the largest regatta in the world, competing in both the Women’s Youth Coxed Quads race as well as the Men’s Youth Fours. The girls placed eighteenth out of 30 crews in a time of 19:39.080 minutes, while the boys placed sixty-third out of 86 crews with a time of 18:04.295 minutes.
Coxswain Logan McLennan ’19 said, “It was just a really, really fun time overall. We got out there up and early, went over to Cambridge, [and] we launched from the [Community Rowing, Inc.] Boathouse, which our coaches were friendly with. We were out on the water; it was nice and flat. Normally the race is wicked choppy, and the water is disgusting, but it was [really] nice this year, and that was a really good thing to have for racing.”
Girls Crew Co-Captain Lila Brady ’18 was particularly proud of the display of teamwork on Sunday.
Brady said, “[The team was able to perform so successfully because of] people’s energy and coming to practice on days when some of us would be in other boats. We wouldn’t be together all the time, but when we were together, everyone made the most of it. It was super telling when we were having practices on our own, and we were the ones saying to the coaches, ‘Yeah, we want to do one more workout.’ I think it was the most positive boat that I’ve ever been in.”
Pacing was also a major factor at the Head of the Charles Regatta. Because the crews rowed a course much longer than the standard high school distance, saving energy was key.
“It was a long race — 5K. We’re used to doing 2K races in the organized sport in the spring. We had to focus a bit more on our endurance and keeping our rating steady throughout, rather than jacking it up quickly,” said rower Nick Isenhower ’18. “That’s sort of what we tailored our practices to, focusing on longer, endurance rating kind of stuff.”
Jason Yung ’18 said, “We started the first 1,000 meters just getting into our rhythm, very patient, very measured. And then, in the second 1,000, as we went down the Powerhouse Stretch, we picked up the rating and tried to make some moves on some crews, and then for the last half of the race, we just tried to hang in there and stay consistent and not fall apart as we went around a ton of different turns.”
Prior to the race, there were not many organized, race-specific workouts, which presented a significant challenge for the team, according to Brady.
“It was really just an entry just to get experience and have fun learning to row together this fall. It wasn’t a competitive thing. Obviously, we put our effort into it, but we had only practiced, maybe seven times together. It was just ‘do your best,’ and I think we were really happy with how that turned out,” said Brady.
The girls’ team also rowed in a coxed quad, a boat with four rowers and one coxswain. Each rower controls two oars rather than one, which is called sculling. Andover typically races in an eight, where eight rowers each control a single oar, which is called sweep rowing, and racing in the coxed quad required a new race strategy.
“A quad and an eight are typically about the same speed, because in an eight you have eight people pulling, and eight oars, but you also have more weight. In a quad you have eight oars, but you only have four people pulling, but you’re lighter because you only have four people. So they kind of balance each other out, but the quad is notorious for having very fast boat speed and accelerating very quickly through the water because it’s four people sculling. So we had to adjust our rowing with stronger finishes to account for that,” said Girls Crew Co-Captain Sofie Brown ’18.
Andover looks to continue to improve upon its rowing in the future. Isenhower added that he would like to see the Head of the Charles Regatta become a bigger part of Andover’s fall season.
“We were talking with the coach about having the younger guys be able to do it and maybe practicing more, so it’s more of a competitive race, rather than just an experience and seeing what it’s like,” said Isenhower. “I want to see if we can make this a tradition and get people to row in it each year and become competitive.”
Andover Crew aims to train hard throughout the winter to prepare for the regular season and the New England Interscholastic Rowing Association Championships in the spring.