Crew team competes in the Head of the Charles Regatta

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Contributed by Jean Hur

Juniors Ever Waldron and Annabel Cox and seniors Maiya Whalen and Claire Guillemin row in the youth women's four event at the Head of the Charles

Thousands of eager spectators filled the air with sounds of cheers and cowbells as boats sped along the river. The Head of the Charles was underway.
This year, on Oct. 20, the crew team was able to row four boats: a boys four, boys eight and two girls fours. The race’s scale and energetic atmosphere make it one of the most important and enjoyable races for the crew team.
The team had been preparing for weeks prior to the event. For six days a week, the team worked out on ergs and rowed on the Charles River.
According to junior Justin Grossman, who was in the boys four, the Head of the Charles is the most important race for the fall crew season, with much of the team’s previous work serving as preparation.
“Overall the intensity ramps up. The Head of the Charles is the only really big race in the fall so we do a lot of other little races almost every weekend just to see where we are for the Head of the Charles,” Grossman said.
For senior and girls varsity crew captain Maiya Whalen, who rowed in the girls second four, the Head of the Charles’ status as a large international rowing event makes it especially important for the crew team.
“It’s basically a rowing Christmas,” Whalen said. “It’s one of the biggest regattas in the world so even if you are not a part of it, you are immersed in this whole rowing world that appears overnight and you get to cheer on all your teammates. Even our coach is racing in it.”
The presence of other, more seasoned rowers at the expansive regatta adds to the thrill of competing.
“If you are in it, it’s really a cool experience because you get to race with some of the fastest people in the world,” Whalen said.
The boys four got 22nd, and the boys eight got 63rd. The girls fours got 51st and 73rd respectively. But Grossman was not completely satisfied with how the team performed.
“I’d say we underperformed. The girls squad didn’t requalify any boats, and the boys squad only requalified the boat I was in,” Grossman said.
However, despite not completely meeting their own expectations, Grossman said their boat still found some success.
“We’ve trained really hard this whole season to make sure even if we have a bad race, we would do well. We finished top quarter, so that’s pretty hard to do in a competition like the Head of the Charles,” Grossman said.
Despite the disappointment for Whalen, the race was still a positive experience.
“I think even though we didn’t do as well as we wanted to, it was still a good row, it was a good piece and it was really fun. I think everyone in my boat was happy with it,” Whalen said.
Junior Ding Min Xin, who was in the boys eight, appreciates the work his boat did leading up to the race, even if they did not requalify for next year.
“Our four did really well and I’m really proud of them. They worked really hard. I had a great time with the eight,” Xin said. “We really gave it our all every day.”
Grossman is optimistic that the team will be able to do better next year with more work and effort.
“I think it’ll all fall into place and we can put together a really good lineup next year. I’m very excited for the future to come and even more so for the spring,” Grossman said.
According to Xin, the time he spent preparing with his teammates for the race was meaningful because they got to bond.
“It was really fun to train with all these guys in the eight. We had a lot of good times,” Xin said. “It was some of the most fun I’ve ever had rowing at the high school. Just the process of it is even more important than the result.”
For Whalen, rowing in the Head of the Charles was a memorable and exciting experience.
“Honestly it was just really cool to row in the Head of the Charles. It’s one of the biggest races in the world and it was really fun to just be at such a high level of racing and competition from everywhere,” Whalen said. ”Races are fun, especially when you’re doing it with people who you’ve spent a lot of time with and are friends with.”