Men’s club crew team to row at prestigious Head of the Charles Regatta for first time in years

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Photo by HANA ISIHARA

The Lafayette men’s crew team will have the opportunity to add a boat at the largest two-day regatta in the world at the Head of the Charles Regatta. After years of being unable to receive a bid, the men’s team will once again be competing. (Photo courtesy of Hana Isihara ’17)

After years of being unable to capture a bid to row at the largest two-day regatta in the world, the men’s crew team will finally have the opportunity to add a boat to the Head of the Charles Regatta, which will be held Oct. 22-24.

“The Head of the Charles is a race in Boston every year. It’s one of the biggest regattas in the country. There’s high school teams, college teams and master teams,” senior coxswain Charlie Scorsone said.

“It’s a really fun regatta, and it’s a huge deal. If you row in the US, you know The Head of the Charles,” senior Haley Simpson, who attended the Head of the Charles with the women’s team boat her sophomore year, said. Simpson sits at the stroke seat.

“You have to get in on a lottery system, and you have to qualify. If you did well enough to get a boat in there you could just automatically [qualify]. The girls’ boat got in a few years ago, and they’ve just done well enough every year to [qualify]. For whatever reason, we couldn’t get in off of the lottery, but now we finally did,” Scorsone explained. “We now have one boat from each team going this year, so there has been a big training regimen for that and a lot of water time…we have to put in work to get a boat ready for that because it’s a big race and a lot of teams from all over the country are going.”

“It’s really exciting for them, they’ve been trying to get in for a while. In the past couple of years it’s been just the women’s four, and last year they didn’t hold the regatta,” Simpson said.

Due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak on campus, many clubs were on pause. But with the regatta in less than a month, Simpson explained that they plan to begin to hold double practices and focus on lifting and cardio.

“This is the first week that we’ve kind of gotten everybody together because of COVID. There’s going to be a lot of days where there might be double practices in a day,” Scorsone said. “We’re amped up to a whole new level. Hopefully, we can stay for fall break so we can practice then as well.”

The Lafayette crew team has a handful of other regattas this fall season besides the Charles.

“We’re going to a regatta a week before the Charles, called the Overpeck Fall Classic [Oct. 17]. Then we’re going to the Head of the Schuylkill [Oct. 30] a week after the Charles. We’re then going to a race called the Philadelphia Frostbite Regatta [Nov. 13], and that’s our schedule for the fall,” Scorsone said.

This season, the crew team wanted to put an emphasis on helping out the first-year rowers.

“We always bring in a bunch of first years, and a lot of them have never rowed before, so this is the semester we teach them. It’s about your whole team, and getting people out there to get that experience,” Scorsone said. 

Scorsone has been rowing for nearly eight years. His position in the boat has made him accustomed to stepping up and being a leader.

“I am the coxswain of the boat, so I don’t actually do any of the rowing. The first thing I do is I steer the boat. As far as Fall racing, which is typically a 5K, there’s lots of turns,” he said. “I also kind of act as a second coach. I have a microphone, and I get to talk to the rowers in the boat, to motivate them, tell them what’s going on, and give them improvements…I’m not a vocal person per se, but in the right frame of mind, I’m someone that would kind of be the leader. I’m not the loudest person in the world, but when I’m in a boat I feel like I can be, and I’m confident in that.”

Currently, over 600 teams and clubs have entered the three-day regatta.

“Last time we got 10th place at the Head of the Charles, so I think it’d be really cool to move up in that because we were just sophomores. Now we’re seniors and juniors coming in with more experience I’d like to see how well we could do,” Simpson said.

“As a senior, it’s my first time ever going to the Charles,” Scorsone said. “I hope to get a high enough placement at the Charles to [qualify] so that a boat next year can also race there.”