Both Wesleyan crews have splashed back into action with their first regattas of the fall. With races at the Riverfront Regatta in Hartford, the teams both took impressive finishes, boating well (pun intended) for the rest of the short but competitive season.

The women’s team made history last semester, taking fourth place at the NCAA Division III Rowing Championships. They return 11 members of the NCAA effort from both the Varsity 8 and Second Varsity 8 boats. This season, they’re welcoming eight first-years to the team, adding to an underclassmen-dominant squad that already boasts 10 sophomores.

The men’s team also had a hot spring campaign, with a Little Three Title and a first-place victory at the New England Rowing Championships. The team has only taken the Championship title three times in Wesleyan history, with the last win 15 years before in 2004. Since the spring’s success, the Cardinals have lost five senior members, but they’ve retained the core of their crew and welcomed nine first-years.

The freshly minted Red and Black rowers aided the effort last Sunday, when they participated in the first regatta of their Wesleyan careers. Both crews faced off against a few similar NESCAC foes, but they also had bigger fish to fry: A few Division I teams traveled their way to Connecticut to dip their toes into the competitive water.

The women’s team competed in both the Open 8 and the Open 4, with two boats in each race. In the Open 8, the team garnered an admirable fifth-place position, placing in the top quintile of boats with 25 teams total. Tufts took the top honors in the same competition, followed by the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Connecticut. Smith College just narrowly edged out Wesleyan from the fourth-place spot by a devastating two-hundredths of a second.

This was by far the closest finish within the top five and even the entire race. Tufts’ victorious time was just 10 seconds faster than the Cardinal clock-in. The Jumbos were a force to be reckoned with; they dominated not only the Women’s Open 8 but also the Mixed Open 8, Women’s Open 2X, and Men’s and Women’s Open 4X.

The Red and Black’s second boat in the Open 8 finished in 21st. A Smith boat also edged out the Cardinals for the place before, taking 20th, but this time with an over 30-second lead. The second boat’s 19:01.45 finish was about 2:45 behind the Cardinals’ first boat.

In the women’s Open 4, however, both Wesleyan boats finished in the upper half of competition: 10th and 11th in a 22-boat water. There was barely a two-second difference between the two finishes, speaking to the team’s depth and similarly successful line-ups.

The men’s team competed in the Open 8, with three different crews taking the water. After such a big success at the Championships last spring, they looked to capitalize on this win early in the season.

“The first race of the season often feels like a warmup and a chance to see how you stack up against the field,” Emmett Nunes ’22, a member of Wesleyan’s A crew, said. “I think we approached this with an idea of where we wanted to be and a plan to achieve it, and we executed that very effectively.”

And achieve they did. The men’s team took top honors in the Open 8, with the A crew crossing the finish line in 14:13.69.

Will Humphrey ’20, another rower in the team’s A boat, felt the winning effort was a continuation of last season’s victory.

“The race this weekend felt like business as usual, picking up right where we left off after last spring’s success,” Humphrey said. “The team rolled in to Hartford professionally, got the job done, and rolled out.”

Although, undoubtedly, the result of seasons of hard work, it appeared as if the team cruised to an easy finish, blowing the competition out of the water with an impressive nearly nine-second lead. Trinity, who followed in second place, crossed the finish in 14.22.92.

Wesleyan had two more boats in the race—their B and C crews—which finished in sixth and last (14th) place, respectively. The B boat finished in an impressive 15:03.51, while the C boat garnered a 17:58.42 time, with a 40 second penalty for two missed buoys.

Both the A and B crews topped Tufts, whose boats finished in the middling 7th, 8th, and 10th positions. They also out-rowed some of the Division I boats, including University of Connecticut, in fourth and ninth, and the University of Rhode Island, in 12th and 13th.

After a successful day on the water, both teams take the weekend off before the Head of the Charles Regatta during fall break. The Cardinals will travel to Cambridge, Mass. for the two-day competition.

“Last weekend was a signal that we’re in a solid spot,” Nunes said. “We’re coming off a phenomenal season last spring and we’ve got a strong freshman class, and really our ultimate goal is to build our success from last weekend into winning races later this fall and in the spring.”

His teammate, Humphrey, is already anticipating next week’s races.

“The depth and talent on this squad is exceptional,” Humphrey said. “We’re all looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish at the Head of the Charles.”


Zoë Kaplan can be reached at or on Twitter at @_zoekaplan.

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