Despite unfavourable conditions in which its opponent caught two crabs, Andover Girls Crew’s Boat 1 battled through the wind to overcome Hanover and Brunswick on Saturday. Following a winless season last season, these wins were another sign of a team that is learning to get behind each other.
Reese DiBiase ’23 says the team was able to stay composed even as it saw its opponents held back by the wind. Despite the team’s inexperience, the team was able to adapt to the situation to ultimately clinch the win.
“The conditions were super bad, the water was super choppy, and the boat next to us, which was Hanover… caught like two major crabs, so they had to stop during the race. And I think that’s when I was super proud of my girls, because conditions like that aren’t easy and we all kind of went into that race that we’re pulling for each other and we are just doing whatever we can because the crew overall is pretty new. I think there’s a lot of girls in there [for whom] this is only their first or second season and we were just like we’re going to do our best and we’re going to do our best for each other. So when the other boat was almost like falling apart a little bit because the conditions were so bad and they weren’t used to it the way we were all just able to stay composed and just row our own race, I was like so proud of everybody,” said DiBiase.
According to Evelyn Darling ’23, the team was able to adjust to the weather because it has been working on increasing its stroke rate. In the week preceding the race, boat 1’s practices consisted of rowing at rates of up to 40 to 50 strokes per minute.
Darling said, “I think recently we’ve been focusing on really getting fast strokes in because we’re reaching a level right now where everybody is so strong and the teams are so strong, so a lot of the decider in races is who can actually get more strokes in. And we did a lot of training specifically that last week, we did our practices where our rates were up in the 40s or the 50s for some pieces and that really helped us especially on a poor condition day with lots of wind, lots of bad waves, we were able to keep our rowing at a similar speed to our normal races to help us just get that extra bit of adaptability and persistence over Hanover.”
In addition to technique work, in which the team has been working on timing and catching & finishing, DiBiase says an important part of team practice has been getting to know each other better and supporting each other. These bonds formed during practice helped Andover push through for a win against Hanover.
“There’s definitely the technical part, like making sure we’re catching together, like keeping our catches sharp and quick and together and matching up as a boat. Also at the finish, like at the catch and finish, just finding that timing, which is more like technically what we’ve been working on. But I think we’ve also just been learning how to pull for each other and having a mindset where even when it’s hard, even when the river isn’t in the best conditions, just kind of like having a lot of grit with whatever we’re doing and just not stopping no matter what, always giving 110%,” said DiBiase.
At the end of the race, the team had a conversation with Head Coach Ellen Minzner, who emphasized not just the result, but the team’s ability to row consistently in difficult conditions.
“We had a conversation with our coach afterwards and a lot of that was about because we came off the water after that piece and while we had sort of brought that intensity back and continued to gain on them, people felt that we could have given more. And then our coach, coach Ellen really reinforced that for these races it doesn’t really matter how well we do. It matters a little bit, like how well we do if we’re ahead, in good water, stuff like that. But what she really wants to see is just us staying consistent in every single row. We’re going to come off the water. Regardless of how we did, we’re going to know that we’re really proud of the effort and the focus that you put into it. I think that the last talk was a key moment moving forward,” said Darling.
Andover will race St. Paul’s next on Saturday.