Crew goes to Head of the Charles

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Courtesy: Michele Hsu

WJ Crew takes on the challenging 3-mile course in Boston. The biggest fall event of the year proved a great experience for coaches and rowers alike.

The crew team has returned from competing in the biggest event of the fall, Head of the Charles, in Boston, Massachusetts. With over 2,000 entries ranging from single to eight person boats, this competition is the biggest and most prestigious race in North America. This event included top teams from around the country competing for the chance to be a part of history. The girls’ four boat placed 67 out of 77 while the mens’ four and eight placed 68 out of 88 and 73 out of 80 respectively.

The Charles river has a few unique features that bring new dimensions to the competition. For one, the course is covered in bridges and turns, making it what’s known as a coxswain’s course. Precise steering is key to laying down a good time. Second, heats are known to have up to 80 boats on the water at one time. This can lead to chaos and unlikely winners.

“Head of the Charles is more than just a race,” head coach Andrew Lalley said. “Think of it as a cross between an athletic competition and a festival. The whole city comes out to watch racing. It is always special to send rowers up there.”

Crew faced many challenges in terms of preparing for the race. A year of Covid-19 lockdowns has limited the ability to practice and train new rowers. It has also meant the loss of graduating seniors who once carried WJ to victories.

Coach Lalley sees Boston as a teaching moment. “What will really determine our success in our Championship Races (in May) will be how we take the lessons of racing in Boston and apply it to our training and racing going forward,” Lalley said.

Regardless of the outcome, WJ showed its colors amongst olympians and some of the fastest colleges in the world. That alone is a grand achievement.

“I just can’t pick one thing to be excited about, flying up and staying with my friends for the weekend, getting to practice on the Charles River and getting to explore the regatta and Boston itself,” senior Ava Familant said prior to the race.

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