On Saturday, Oct. 2, men’s and women’s crew headed to the Riverfront Recapture Regatta. Cardinal men’s crew took first, fourth, and fifth of eight with times of 14:51.50, 15:09.31, and 15:20.04. The women took first and fourth of 12 with 16:26.33 and 17:34.75, with the first boats of both beating out Trinity and the Coast Guard Academy. The men faced and defeated the University of Massachusetts as well, while the women beat the University of Connecticut.
This year, the men’s and women’s teams are both serious contenders in the hunt for a NESCAC championship. The men come off a second-place finish last year, while the women work to improve from a third-place finish in 2016’s grand finale. According to Edward Kennedy ’20, the team has simple goals for the season.
“Win everything and beat everyone, especially Williams,” Kennedy said.
Last year, with a time of 6:25.553 the men placed only .770 seconds behind Williams, the first place finisher, who recorded a time of 6:24.783. The women, at 7:24.634, finished five seconds behind Williams at 7:19.183 and three seconds behind Bates at 7:21.1.73. At that race, the Wesleyan women came in 10 seconds ahead of Trinity’s 7:34.165. This time, the Cards broadened that gap, crossing the finish line more than a minute ahead of Trinity, who finished at 17:30.54. The Riverfront Regatta had times averaging around twice those of the 2016 championship, so a six-fold increase in the difference translates more closely to a change by a factor of three. Still, the change represents an increase in prowess this season, which team members say cannot be attributed to any single factor.
“I think we have a much deeper program than most of our competitors; in 2015 our third boat won NESCACs with our second [boat] in second place and our [first boat] getting fifth, which showed the depth already,” Kennedy said. “This year we have the fastest team that we’ve had in over 10 years, with more than 19 rowers breaking 22 minutes for their 6K tests versus last year, when only 9 broke 22 minutes. Also, we pull phat ergos.”
“Passing boats is always hard in a head race because our coxswains have to yell at the other crew that we’re passing them, per rules since then they have to move over,” Kennedy added. “So as a rower if we don’t pass them quickly and they put up a fight, it is definitely a tough situation.”
The race also posed unique difficulties in that one crew would start at a time, each with their own clock, which is not usually practiced by Wesleyan’s rowers.
“I’ve only ever raced head-to-head sprint pieces, with the boats right next to you,” Kennedy said. “So literally staying ahead and beating them is the motivation, whereas keeping yourself on pace in a head race, where boats are launched one after another so no boats start even, is harder to grapple with. Typically better self-motivators do better in this case.”
However, this race held much less importance than others. Only eight rower races are counted toward the official season and can take a team to NCAA championships.
“The eights are where it matters,” Kennedy said. “With the fours, that was the first time any of the boats had actually rowed together and it wasn’t a selected process, meaning Coach just kind of said to go row. Basically, it was for fun.”
The team looks ahead to Saturday, Oct. 22, when the men will take part in the Head of the Charles Regatta, and Sunday, Oct. 23, when the women will compete in the same race. The Head of the Charles is the largest regatta in North America and one of the largest in the world, featuring not just collegiate boats but also boats from various national teams. Thousands of fans will come out to cheer on their teams and take in the beautiful October scenery in what is truly one of America’s greatest sporting experiences. Coming out of the Riverfront Regatta, crew members see an opportunity to improve in preparation of this race.
“There are some ways we can improve rhythmically as a boat, however the lineups from this race were anything but final,” Kennedy said. “I think that just rowing more will help especially trying to maintain form even when tired.”