Locals race in famous Charles Regatta

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Shrewsbury High School follow up with wins at state championship 

The Shrewsbury High School team
Photo/submitted

 By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer

Region – Between the Charles Regatta and a high school state championship, it was a busy end to the local rowing season. As their athletes recover, high school coaches are praising the professionalism they’ve recently seen.

Teenagers from Shrewsbury High School (SHS) and St John’s High School represented more than half of the contingent of locals in this year’s Charles Regatta, which began this busy stretch for the teams.

“It [was] fantastic,” said Matt Hastings, a head coach in the Shrewsbury High School crew program. “I thought from both boys and girls performed brilliantly. It really was just a proud day for both teams.”

SHS ran boats in the Men’s and Women’s Youth Eights categories. Both placed towards the middle of their respective fields, with the men placing slightly higher to earn what Hastings described as one of the program’s best finishes in their history racing at the Charles.

They were not alone even within their races, however as St. John’s ran a boat in the Men’s Youth Eights race, in addition to their entry into the Men’s Youth Fours race.

While a large scale regatta was hardly new to any of these rowers, who were all at the end of their 2019 rowing seasons, the course they had to tackle in Cambridge was.

 

 

 

 

The seven bridges spanning the river, combined with a sharp hairpin turn just short of the course’s finish line are features uncommon in other major regattas. As such, the Regatta requires, according to Hastings, heightened awareness by the coxswains in each boat, who direct and coach rowers throughout their races.

“It’s about trying to separate yourself from the competition,” he said. “[You need to] have the best line through those arches and through the course to give yourself the competitive edge.”

As his teams rowed through those arched brick bridges, followed not far behind by a similarly successful St John’s team, Hastings praised the coxswains ability to have done their work ahead of time.

“They prepared, they studied, and they executed perfectly on the course,” he said.

Before any of the high school students hit the course, however, many older local residents navigated the same challenges.

Indeed, while the performance of the US National team stole regional and national headlines, and the success of local high school rowers earned praise back in Central Massachusetts, the local Quinsigamond Rowing Club also sent five boats through the course.

They too landed towards the middle of the pack, placing highest in the Men’s Grand Master Singles race in the 50+ division.

The rowing did not end, however, even at the regatta. A week later, Shrewsbury High School took big victories across the board at the Massachusetts Public School Rowing Association Fall Championship.

Both their boy’s and girl’s teams won their respective points trophies, aggregated according to the performances of each gendered team’s boats in five individual races.

“For our team to successfully work through the challenging conditions was exciting to be a part of,” Hastings wrote in an email following the championships. “Winning the respective points trophy as well as the overall team trophy speaks to us as being a team and not just individual boats.”

Indeed, weather dogged the championship race, posing different challenges to teams a week after they navigated the Charles course. In the end, though, whether it was their flexibility to those weather based barriers, or the bridges and tight turns of the Charles, Hastings repeated that he is proud of his team, and overjoyed by the note on which they ended their year.

“We couldn’t have asked for anything better,” he said. “…we can all use this success to carry us into our winter training in preparation for the spring season.”

photos below/Dakota Antelman

Rowers race under the Eliot Bridge and towards the finish line of the Charles Regatta.
A coxswain suddenly urges a boat in front of her boat to yield as her crew passes.
A competitor rows in the Charles Regatta.
A competitor in the same event as Wilhelm rows just shortly before Wilhelm passed.
A regatta worker watches as an eight-man boat rows by early in the weekend’s events.
Eric Wilhelm of Shrewsbury’s Quinsigamond Rowing Club rows towards the finish line of the Charles Regatta.