STANFORD, Calif. – The Stanford lightweight rowing team will head to Boston this weekend to begin its season racing in the 49th Head of the Charles Regatta.
Head coach Al Acosta, who has led the team to four straight national championships, will take nine rowers with him to the Northeast in hopes of capturing a title in the Women’s Lightweight Eights. With five juniors studying abroad, the Stanford boat will feature the youngest lineup in the race. The Cardinal crew will feature five freshmen, three sophomores and one senior.
“I don’t think we are under any illusions that we are really fast right now,” said Acosta. “We have been rowing for two weeks now so hopefully the kids have their expectations moderated a little bit. But they are all really competitive kids and they certainly want to give it their best shot to win. They’ll go hard and we will see where we come out.”
The Head of the Charles has been an annual event on the Charles River in Boston since 1965. It is an event that features 9,000 athletes and 300,000 spectators. Widely considered one of the largest rowing events in the world, the Head of the Charles features a challenging course with seven bridges, the 90-degree “Weeks Bridge” turn and “Dead Man’s Curve” through the final Eliot Bridge.
Senior Zoe Wolford is the only upperclassmen for Stanford competing this weekend and she will cox the boat through the challenging course.
“It is kind of a coxswain’s race,” said Wolford. “It is a head race and the river is windy with lots of bridges. I have been meeting with our assistant coach Maggie, who was a coxswain and has been through the race. She has all sorts of race plans for me to go over.”
The freshmen who will be getting an early chance to compete for Stanford will be Jackie Huddle, Martine Johnannessen, Christine Cavallo, Brianna Goldstein and Sarah Hirshorn. The three sophomores are Brittany Presten, Emma Collins and Katherine Christel.
“We have a lot of juniors studying abroad right now and it really gives the freshmen a chance to step up,” said sophomore Katherine Christel. “We have a freshman in stroke seat at the Head of the Charles. I think it is a great way for them to feel comfortable with the team and become incorporated.”
The Stanford crew will be one of the last groups to race in the two-day event as they are scheduled to begin at 4:46 p.m. (ET).