October 6, 2016
This past Saturday, the Hamilton men’s and women’s rowing teams hosted Colgate and St. Lawrence Universities at the Erie Canal in Rome for the Bridge to Bridge Regatta, Hamilton’s first of the season. The Continentals’ women’s eight boats raced a 6,600-meter course while the men’s four competed on a 3,900-meter course. In the women’s race, the Varsity eight boat took home first place, boasting a time of 26:43.7, 44 seconds ahead of second-place St. Lawrence. The Second Varsity eight finished sixth with a time of 29:54.5. The men raced three boats: a Varsity eight, a Varsity four, and a Novice four. The Varsity eight finished in 24:44.7, putting them in third place behind Colgate and St. Lawrence. The four’s boats raced on their own, with Varsity recording a time of 18:36.8 and the Novice a time of 21:10.6 on the shorter course. On the results of the regatta, Head Coach Robert Weber remarked, “Overall, I’m encouraged by the effort, but we’ve got work to do, both technically and psychologically.”
Coach Weber noted that a 6.6-kilometer race is not short by any means, being one of the longest collegiate races in the nation. To make things more complicated, rowers faced strong headwinds all race. Weber felt that, “Our Women’s Varsity 8+ probably handled it [the conditions] the best of any of our boats, as the results indicate, and it’s good to see them get off to a strong start, particularly with four first-years in the crew.” The first place finish was a great start to the season for this young boat, which features three sophomores and four first-years. “It was really nice winning our first race of the season and seeing all our hard work pay off!” exclaimed member of the victorious Women’s eight, Vicky Xu ’19, who also added that, “We were really happy that we were able to stay focused and work together through the less than ideal conditions.”
Even though the women’s Varsity boat may have been the highlight of the day, Weber commented that, “Our other crews certainly raced hard as well, and I think it’s a good race to kick the season off with.”
Captain of the men’s team Elias Clough ’17 felt that the men “raced hard given the conditions.” The conditions were certainly a challenge and Weber attributes the successes achieved in spite of them to “increasingly better focus and intensity in practice” along with the fact that the crews know the course well, rowing it each day for practice. Difficult conditions are not the only challenge the Continentals have faced. Coach Weber claims that, “our biggest challenge yet has simply been getting everyone to row the same way,” noting that the team’s numerous first-years come in with varied rowing styles and techniques and stressing the importance of getting everyone on the same page.
The performance of the crews at the Bridge to Bridge are promising, but both coaches and rowers are aware that a lot of hard work must still be done. “We’ve made progress, but we have a way to go yet,” said Weber, who specifically highlights technical improvements, fitness and mental toughness as areas where the team needs to progress. Clough echoed this sentiment, remarking that, “there’s a lot we can work on.” Weber believes that his crews have what it takes to improve, saying “we have kids who want to succeed, who want to pull hard, and who want to go faster.” Weber added that, “What’s really exciting to me...is the reaction I’ve gotten from many of our athletes who say they want to do better and think they can do better.” One of these athletes is Clough, who said, “we’re looking forward to improving our performance at our next race, the Head of the Genesee.” The turnaround from the Bridge to Bridge Regatta is short, as the Head of the Genesee is this Saturday, Oct. 8, in Rochester, NY. The rowing team is no stranger to challenges, however, and is working hard to continually improve. Xu added, “We are all very excited for the rest of the season!” With a good start under their belts, room for growth and a strong work ethic, they have good reason to be.