Shrewsbury School

RSSBC: Head of the Charles Regatta

Monday 4 November 2013

The Boat Club took a group of 21 boys and girls to compete at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston over half term. The trip provided an opportunity to race in the world’s largest two-day rowing event, which is held over the three-mile course of the Charles River.

The group were generously hosted by the Salopian community living in the village of Beverly Farms, 30 miles north of Boston.

RSSBC in Boston USA, October 2013

After a late arrival on Wednesday 16th October, the group found it easy to get a good night’s sleep before hitting the water in two eights on Thursday morning. The crews used equipment kindly provided by Boston College, St Joes Prep and Northeastern University. The first paddle on the course was in ideal conditions and a great chance for the coxes and steersmen to see the course before all the competing crews arrived on Friday. For jet-lagged legs it was a sharp wake-up call as the crews did some full pressure work back up the course to Union Boathouse, before heading off to Harvard boathouse and a tour around the facilities by assistant coach and Salopian Pat Lapage.  At lunch most of the group headed for burritos at Chipotle in Harvard Square – the not-so-perfect preparation for taking on the Harvard Stadium stairs afterwards.  A further tour around the impressive athletics facilities was an eye opener for most. In the afternoon the crews took to the water again for a short technical paddle before heading back to the host houses for dinner and an early night.

On Friday the crews got another chance to paddle over the course before heading off to Boston College High School for a late breakfast. A generous full English breakfast went down well before the two quads and the four headed back to the course to get their boats set up for Sunday. The boys’ eight had a tour around the school which is a Jesuit school with approximately 1,600 day pupils. In the afternoon the eight headed to the beach for a different training session and stretch before heading to the Lymans’ for a pizza supper and a chance for the whole group to chat about their experiences.

RSSBC beach training, Boston USA, October 2013

Beach training session

On Saturday the two quads took to the water again in the basin beyond the start to make final preparations. The eight and the four had a more relaxed start before heading into Boston to meet up and watch some of the racing and visit the multitude of stores selling various bits of rowing paraphernalia. At 1pm the group assembled en masse at the Harvard Stadium to watch Harvard take on Lafayette in American Football. Later in the afternoon we headed back to Beverly Falls for a group stretching session on the beach before a pasta party kindly hosted by the Hodgsons.

RSSBC BBQ, Boston USA, October 2013

Relaxing round the fire at the Hodgsons'

Sunday was race day and an early start for most of the crews. The boys’ four were up first and taking on 84 other youth crews from around the world.

RSSBC Boys' Quad rowing at the Head of the Charles Regatta, USA, October 2013

Boys’ Four - Ed Carroll (cox), Alex Powell, Will Hayes, Henry Rassmuss and Ulrik Cappelen

The four produced a strong display to record an impressive result, coming 29th out of 85. The girls’ quad followed in an open category event which saw them taking on 29 other crews. The girls had had little preparation together in the boat due to injury but performed extremely well, coming in 13th out of 30 on raw time.

RSSBC Girls' Quad rowing at the Head of the Charles Regatta, USA, October 2013

Girls’ Quad (far side) - Lizzy Collins, Francesca Molyneaux, Claudia Kimpton-Smith and Lettie Tay

The boys’ eight started near the back of the field of 85 crews, amongst crews from Canada and South Africa.  They made a strong start over the first half of the course and quickly overtook Shawnigan Lake and were sitting in 8th and 10th place through the first two timing markers. In the second half of the course the crew fell back slightly, having to take a slightly wider course coming into the last bend, and had to settle for 19th place at the finish. The result was pleasing knowing the quality of the field, but the crew will need to make gains over the winter if they hope to be in contention at the top come the summer.

RSSBC VIII rowing at the Head of the Charles Regatta, USA, October 2013

Boys’ Eight - Charlie Clarke, Will Dodson-Wells, Niall Barrow, Will Angell-James, Toby Thomas, George Patterson, Moritz Bensel, Brandt Beckerman and Rob Homden

The last crew to race was the boys’ quad. The crew were also racing in an open category event and finished a respectable 25th out of 38 on raw time. The challenge of steering the boat through six bridges and around five sharp bends is a challenge in itself and deserves praise to both Lizzy Collins and Elliot Robinson-Boulton for steering coxless boats down the course without incident.

RSSBC Boys' four rowing at the Head of the Charles Regatta, USA, October 2013

Boys’ Quad - Charlie Clarke, Charlie Johnston, Charles Duckworth and Elliott Robinson-Boulton

After thanking our host clubs and getting a last chance to take in the event, the crews got a chance to watch some of the national team crews competing against the top university crews in the Championship Eights division.  We all headed back to the Kerrs’ house for a celebratory barbeque and a chance to relax after all the build-up to the event.

Monday started with an early morning training session on the beach in the form of various different exercises and games. After breakfast we drove 80 miles south to Brown University, Providence. There we were given a tour of the campus and facilities by their freshman coach, Graham Willoughby. After lunch we headed to the boathouse for a chance to see their facilities. In the evening we headed back to downtown Boston to see Qunicy market and enjoy dinner at Durgin Park.

RSSBC beach training, Boston USA, October 2013

A final beach training session

The weather had been kind to us all week and Tuesday was no different. After another long training session on the beach, we headed to the North Shore Mall for lunch and last minute shopping before heading back to Beverly to pack up and say goodbye to our host families. Our appreciation goes to the Kerrs, Lymans, Hodgsons and Phoebe for inviting us into their homes and making us feel so welcome.


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