Lafayette crew makes waves at prestigious Head of the Charles Regatta


Both the men’s and women’s teams received a bid to return next year to the famous Head of the Charles Regatta after their impressive performance on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Abby Hammel ’23)

By Caroline McParland, Sports Editor

Both the men’s and women’s crew teams are making a name for themselves in the rowing community this year after their performance at the Head of the Charles Regatta  in Boston on Sunday. The teams placed high enough to earn bids to return to the prestigious competition next year.

Despite only one Lafayette rower attending this event previously, the pair of women’s and men’s boats had a strong day, with women’s finishing 5th and men’s coming in 15th place at the world’s largest two-day rowing event.

“Being able to qualify and attend the Head of the Charles was a very special thing,” senior coxswain Erika Nally said. “It was the first time for most of the girls in my boat, and it was a ton of work to get where we were.”

“It’s such a huge regatta, so walking around and looking at all of the different tents and trailers was really cool,” senior coxswain Charlie Scorsone said.

Although the whole team did not attend the regatta, those who did not travel found a way to support their teammates.

“We held a watch party to view the race virtually,” senior Aimee Koestler said. “It was so amazing seeing our teammates’ hard work and the success they had after the countless hours they put into practicing for this race. Although we wished we could have gone to support our friends in person, I know I am speaking for the whole team when I say we couldn’t be more proud of our teammates.”

The women’s collegiate four consisted of senior Haley Simpson at the stroke seat, senior Elizabeth Good, junior Abby Hammel and senior Lauren Salbinski. The boat was coxed by Nally.

“You really never know when these opportunities go away. Thanks to Covid, we realized nothing is really permanent,” Nally said. “Our lineups for this race were changing at the last minute, but we had a lot to work with because everyone on the team had been working very consistently.”

Simpson is the only team member who has rowed at the Head of the Charles before. 

“It’s a very coxswain-heavy regatta, and steering is important to perform well, so my job was to keep calm and execute the race plan,” Nally said.

They finished in 5th place out of 32 boats in their race with a time of 19:18.872. The University of Calgary took first in this event, finishing 44.132 seconds ahead of Lafayette.

“Moving up from tenth place [last year] to fifth now is a huge deal. We passed UVM first, and then Clemson, and being able to pass two boats was a huge motivator in the race itself,” Nally said. “It was something we’ve all been looking forward to after almost a whole year of not racing.”

“The women’s side was extremely impressive,” Scorsone said. “They were a couple of seconds out of the medal because for that event it was the top four boats to get awarded, but they were really close, which was pretty awesome.”

The men’s collegiate four included senior Ethan Ames at stroke seat, juniors Henry Grote and Evan Flint, and senior Oliver Finlay.

The boat was coxed by Scorsone and finished 15th of the 40 boats to start the race.

“Charlie [Scorsone] has a lot of experience and it’s his senior year, so getting that last chance to race at the Charles was huge, especially for him,” Nally said.

The men’s boat finished with a time of 17:34.125. Vanderbilt finished first in this event, with a time that was 44.417  seconds ahead of the Leopards.

“I think we did very well,” Scorsone said. “We were super happy with our place in the men’s four, and we beat some really good teams.”

“The top half of the event gets a bid to come back,” Nally said. “For the women, they got fifth so that’s clearly top half. For [the men’s side], there were forty boats in the event and we got fifteenth, so we are going to be back next year. I won’t be there to be a part of it, but I’m still very happy to say that the men’s team will have a boat there again.”

“Their goal was to keep the bid and they did, and they also started a trajectory for future years,” Nally said. “Both teams getting bids for the Charles next year created this joint feeling among the whole team. The men’s and women’s teams all practice together, and we now all have the same goal to look forward to. Hanging around in Boston together all weekend as well was a great team bonding experience.”

The crew teams will be competing at the Head of the Schuylkill tomorrow, Oct. 30., in Philadelphia.

“I’m super excited about the future of the team,” Scorsone said. “As far as the boat that I’m in right now, which has two juniors in it, we have a lot more to go as far as getting faster and getting better. We’re super excited to continue this season and in the spring. There’s a lot of potential for people to really work hard for the Charles boat next year.”