Crew makes a splash with top regatta finishes

By Alex Orlov '13

Two days, 19,000 athletes, 61 events, and 300,000 spectators—not a weekend for the faint of heart. At the Head of the Charles regatta in Cambridge, Ma. this October, the Hamilton men’s and women’s crew teams made a splash with strong finishes in the collegiate fours races.

The Continentals muscled their way through the men’s collegiate fours race, finishing 21st out of 46 boats. Senior Captain Aaron Whiteman, who sat in stroke seat, recounted that he was so focused on his racing and on keeping the number of strokes per minute consistent that he didn’t even notice when his crew nimbly dodged other colliding boats near the Eliot bridge.

Luckily, coxswain Jamie Leiva ’14 was on his game. He expertly steered the Continentals down the winding 3-mile racecourse. The rest of the boat included Dylan Jackson ’13, Grant Meglis ’14, and Landon Morin ’16.

“We started walking through crews one by one,” said Whiteman, noting that Hamilton “walked”, or passed, four other boats after the staggered start that is the norm during the fall racing season. Hamilton even managed to gain water and overlap a fifth boat near the finish line. The team’s strong finish ensured the Hamilton men’s crew an automatic entry for next year’s Head of the Charles.

The Hamilton women’s four performed exception-ally well under pressure and finished sixth out of 38 boats. Having finished second at last year’s Head of the Charles, the Hamilton women started this year’s race as bow number one, meaning that Hamilton was the first boat to begin the staggered start race. “As a sideline spectator for the Charles, watching the Women’s Collegiate 4 come through Weeks bridge first was spectacular,” said Captain Rachel Johnson ’13, noting her pride for how much the women’s team has accomplished this year.

The Continentals finished a full 30 seconds faster than their entry from last year, and their sixth-place finish is outstanding considering the extremely talented field of crews this year. The boat consisted of Captain Kelsey Burke ’13 as the coxswain, Becca Straw ’14 as stroke-seat, Captain Helen Higgins ’13, Caroline Walton ’15, and Erin Gerrity ’15.
At the Head of the Schuylkill in Philadelphia on Oct. 27th, the Hamilton crews demonstrated the team’s depth of talent. The men placed ninth out of 14 boats in the heavyweight championship eights, fourth out of 18 boats in the novice fours, and 13th out of 43 boats in the open fours.

The Hamilton women placed 11th out of 27 boats in the open heavyweight championship eights, eighth out of 27 boats in the novice eights, and eighth out of 12 boats in the novice fours. Coach Eric Summers decided to split the Hamilton rowers into evenly matched “A” and “B” entries for the women’s open club eights race, and the Hamilton boats placed thirteenth and sixth, respectively, out of 31 boats.

“From the first strokes off the dock, I think the whole boat felt the power and unity in the boat,” said Burke, the coxswain for the championship eights Hamilton entry. “We confidently fought our way down the course to finish only 10 seconds behind Trinity College, who is considered to be ranked in the top three of Div. III schools.”

In addition to having the second-best time for a Div. III school, Hamilton also beat out numerous Div. I programs, including Villanova University and Lehigh University.

With the conclusion of a successful fall season, the men’s and women’s teams now turn their attention toward winter strength training in preparation for the exciting spring sprinting season. If the fall is any indication of both teams’ drive to succeed, we can expect that the Continentals will give competitors a serious run for their money this spring.


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