start of the fall racing season for the Hamilton College Men’s
and Women’s Rowing teams fell on a weekend marked by gusty
winds on Saturday, and scattered showers on Sunday. After nearly
a month of training, the rowers finally had a chance to gauge their
speed against traditional rivalries at the 5 Kilometer Head of the
Erie. Organized by the Rome Rowing Club as a fundraiser, the Head
of the Erie was held out of the Hamilton College boathouse on the
Erie Canal in Rome, NY. Being the only race scheduled for the fall
season on the Hamilton home course, the rowers had the opportunity
to showcase their boat-moving abilities in front of a crowd of Hamilton
The format of the regatta split the racing up into two days –
small boat racing on Saturday and large boat racing on Sunday. Normally,
the team doesn’t have the opportunity to enter many small
boats into races because of time and transportation limitations.
Taking advantage of the location of this race, however, Hamilton
Crew entered 15 singles and a pair. The fleet of singles put out
by Hamilton dwarfed the number of boats entered by the competition
which was composed mainly of area clubs and a few college entries.
In the Men’s Collegiate Singles, the four Hamilton entries
found themselves in a race by themselves so they looked toward each
other for competition. Chris Martin-McNaughton eventually prevailed
in a time of 22:24. Pete Coxeter finished 2nd, William “Axtell”
Arnold finished 3rd and Ernesto Medina-Gomez rounded out the field
in 4th. The Women’s Collegiate Single saw Anne Kurtz win in
a time of 26:53 with Alexis Castrovinci second in 30:34 and Becky
Benham in 3rd with a time of 32:17. According to the winner, Anne
Kurtz, aside from nearly hitting the first mile marker in the race
everything went smoothly. On her margin of victory, Kurtz commented,
“I don’t know how that happened. I just felt fine and
dropped the hammer.”
The Men’s Open Single was an event that garnered much hype
and excitement in the week preceding the event. The race featured
three top Hamilton rowers; Kevin Doyck, Josh Huling and Henry Chicaiza;
a former Hamilton oarsman and current rival, John Adams, who now
rows out of Rome Rowing Club; and Hamilton Crew assistant coach,
Tom Wines. In the end, Kevin Doyck won in a time of 21:07. Doyck
could not afford to take any easy strokes in his victory as he was
closely pursued by Adams and Wines who finished with times of 21:53
and 22:00 respectively. Huling and Chicaiza rounded out the field
in 4th and 5th place with times of 23:12 and 24:08. After the race,
Doyck, who is also the captain of the Men’s team, noted that
the race lived up to expectations. “Before the race I knew
that I would have tough competition. I’m just glad that I
was able to prevail through a really strong headwind,” commented
Doyck. Chicaiza threw in his two-cents about the racing saying,
“I’m just glad that Kevin beat the asst. coach.”
The Women’s Open Single proved to be a tough race for Captain
Kristen Dillner, the lone Hamilton entry. The race was won by one
of the top lightweight women scullers in the country, Jana Heere.
Dillner finished in 3rd with a time of 26:12 and with this to say
about her experience, “my race was long and the wind was just
killer.” The Women’s Novice Single race was won in a
time of 25:41 by Kalin Jaffe.
In the Masters sculling races, Head Coach Mike Gilbert and Assistant
Coach Catherine Gilbert showcased their skills as they each finished
second in the men’s and women’s categories. Mike Gilbert’s
time was 24:01 and Catherine Gilbert finished in 25:37. While the
two were just off their peak fitness level from their competitive
days, they each displayed the finer points of technique as they
rowed past the crowd.
Despite the lack of competition in some of the events, the Saturday
racing was by and large a very positive experience. Coach Mike Gilbert
was pleased with the racing, noting that he was pleased to know
that the large majority of his team had the competency to scull
well enough to race. This skill is not something that most collegiate
rowers learn while at college. In fact, other coaches in attendance
commented to the Hamilton rowers that they were very impressed that
collegiate rowers could scull as well as the Hamilton rowers did.
Rower Henry Chicaiza summed up the day best, stating that the day
was, “a good start to the fall season.”
On Sunday, September 28th the small boats
were put away in favor of the larger boats that collegiate teams
traditionally compete in. Joining Hamilton College on the Erie Canal
were Colgate University, Ithaca College, St. Lawrence University,
United States Merchant Marine Academy, and Cazenovia College.
The first event of the day was the Women’s Varsity 4 event.
A Hamilton lineup consisting of Kalin Jaffe, Kim Aber, Kristen Dillner,
Alexis Castrovinci and Amelia Conlon crossed the line in 4th place
in a time of 21:10. The race was won by Colgate in a time of 20:07.
In the Men’s Varsity 4, Hamilton stroked their way to a second
place finish in a time of 18:30. Colgate proved victorious in a
time of 17:51. The Hamilton boat was coxed by Cambridge Peters and
rowed by Keven Doyck, Pete Coxeter, Jamie Grifo and Axtell Arnold.
In the Women’s Varsity 8, Hamilton put out a lineup with Amelia
Conlon, Coxswain; Kalin Jaffe, Stroke; Becky Benham, 7-Seat; Kristen
Dillner, 6-Seat; Alexis Castrovinci, 5-Seat; Courtney McBride, 4-Seat;
Lisi Krainer, 3-Seat; Anne Kurtz, 2-Seat; and Kim Aber, Bow. Starting
in front of Ithaca, Hamilton held them off for about 1200 meters
before Ithaca was able to put together a move to pass them. The
rower’s attention was then directed towards holding off a
charging Colgate boat. Colgate made a strong move in the middle
of the race making up some ground on Hamilton. The Hamilton rowers
then responded with a strong push of their own. Unfortunetly in
the end, their time was 5 seconds short of beating the Colgate boat.
In the final rankings, Hamilton finished in 7th place with a final
time of 19:16. The Ithaca B boat won the event in a time of 17:45.
The Hamilton lineup for the Men’s Varsity 8 race consisted
of Cambridge Peters, Coxswain; Kevin Doyck, Stroke, Kosta Popovic,
7-Seat; Josh Huling, 6-Seat; Pete Coxeter, 5-Seat; Axtell Arnold,
4-Seat; Henry Chicaiza, 3-Seat; Chris Martin McNaughton 2-Seat;
and Ernesto Medina-Gomez in bow seat. Hamilton started the race
in front of the Colgate B boat and was able to hold them off, beating
them by 24 seconds. 6-seat Josh Huling reflected after the race
was over that, “Colgate started the race with a strong move
and made up considerable distance on us. However, we kept our cool
and after the Colgate boat began to tire we really began to pull
away by bringing up the stroke rate and the pressure.” With
this calm and collected effort, Hamilton finished 3rd overall behind
the Colgate and Ithaca “A” boats in a time of 16:27.
Colgate won the race with a time of 16:00.
The Women’s novice team entered an eight and a quad into the
races. The eight rowed down the course with 2 people alternatively
sitting out and stabilizing the boat as the rowers are still in
the process of mastering the sport. Despite only rowing 6 people
at a time, Hamilton finished 2nd place in the novice event behind
St. Lawrence and beating Cazenovia. The quad (a sculling boat) also
did well picking up valuable racing experience while competing in
the varsity event. The Men’s novice team followed suit from
the Women’s novice squad by rowing only 6 people at a time
and finished their race in 2nd place, behind a more experienced
Merchant Marines Academy squad.