Crew continues strong season at Navy Day Regatta

Andrew Hollander

The Lafayette club crew team had a successful weekend at the Navy Day Regatta in Philadelphia, Pa., as the women’s four-boat finished 11th overall and the men’s eight-boat finished in the top half of the field on Saturday, Oct. 13. The race was the Leopards’ first of the fall semester, and they fared well despite facing steep competition from a number of other competitive Division I rowing programs.

“There were a lot of new lineups this past weekend and it was the first time racing for many of the freshman,” said senior team president Nicole Harry. “So it was about getting on the water and rowing hard, both of which were a success.”

The women’s first four-boat had the strong finish despite three out of the four rowers in the boat having never done crew prior to college, according to senior rower and women’s captain Zoe Bremier.

“[The Navy Day Regatta] was the first time we had rowed together in a race,” Bremier said. “It was good to get the nerves out.”

All of the boats executed their race plans well, according to Harry, and the team has laid down a solid foundation for the rest of the season. The team races six days a week throughout the fall, and then moves indoors for the winter months before resuming regular competition in the spring.

The team rows on the nearby Lehigh River, where their course lasts around 2500 meters before the water becomes too shallow for the boats to continue. This course presents a challenge for the team as they are forced to pause and turn the boat, according to Bremier. The Navy Regatta was a 4000-meter race, significantly longer than the Leopards’ practice route.

Another point of optimism for the team is the increase in interest and substantial group of new rowers and coxswain this fall.

“We have a large group of 20 to 30 novice, freshman rowers,” said senior men’s captain Greg Shindel. “In addition, we brought on four recruits onto the varsity men’s team and two for the women.”

Having a big group of young rowers will benefit the team in the long run, according to Bremier. In fact, some of the freshman rowers have previous crew experience.

“Three of the male recruits were in our varsity eight, so as freshman they’re rowing with all of the upperclassmen,” added Bremier. “We’re starting with a lot more [people] than we have the last two years.”

Looking ahead, the men’s team will be racing again in two weeks at the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta in Philadelphia, Pa., while the women’s top four-boat travels to Boston, Mass., to compete in the Head of the Charles Regatta on Oct. 20-21, which is the largest two-day rowing event in the world. The regatta draws international competition as well as club and Division III schools from across the country.

“Our big competition is UNH and UVM,” Bremier said. “I think top-five is very realistic and hopefully top-three is also realistic. Hopefully we’ll hold on and get a medal.”

The Charles River is an extremely technical course, according to Harry, so that will be a challenge for the women’s four. They need to place in the top 50 percent in order to be invited back next year, which means they will need to finish no worse than 20th out of the 40-boat field.

“They’re going to be focused on staying really strong and clean around the tight turns and through the bridges,” said Harry. “I think if they row hard and commit to the race together, they’ll be really successful.”

“They’re strong, and they want this,” she added. “I know I’m very excited to watch.”