Oct. 22, 2007
BOSTON, Mass. -
The Stanford men's, women's, anf lightweight crews all participated at the Head of the Charles this past Sunday, turning in some solid performances. The men and women each finished fifth in their respective Championship Fours races, while the women also turned in a seventh-place effort in the Championship Eight race, and the Stanford lightweights took fifth in the women's Lightweight Eights.
More than 8,000 athletes from 600 U.S. and international universities, rowing clubs, and institutions compete in 26 different race events at the Head of the Charles, which is considered the toughest head race in the world. Released from the starting gate in 10 second intervals, the boats must navigate their way around a three-mile serpentine course throguh seven bridges.
The Stanford men started in second behind the University of British Columbia, last year's winners. The 2006 UBC crew was comprised of Canadian National Team athletes. In 2006, the Stanford four was the top collegiate crew, and winner of the first place collegiate medal. This year, the Stanford men quickly caught up to the UBC crew, and as the Stanford boat attempted a pass under the Western Avenue Bridge, the UBC crew steered into them, tearing a 10-foot long gash into the side of the hull. The Stanford men were stopped in the water for a full 20 seconds but resumed rowing and finished fifth overall despite their boat taking on water over the final two miles. The team was the second fastest collegiate crew behind Harvard with a time of 16:47.561.
"I was very pleased with the first eight minutes of the race," said men's head coach Craig Amerkhanian. "The boat was gaining rhythm and efficiency. Catching the boat in front this quickly was a clear indication of good things to come. However, UBC failed to adhere to Head of the Charles rules, which state slower boats are to yield to faster ones. Our coxswain pressed forward to pass and UBC turned into us causing extensive damage to our borrowed shell and dashing our chances for another collegiate championship four medal. Second place is great considering we stopped for an extended period of time and took on water for the remainder of the race."
Stanford's open women returned in the Championship eight, and entered the Championship four for the first time. The eight finished seventh overall, and fifth among universities, with a time of 16:37.560. The women's four finished fifth overall and was the top American crew in the event with their time of 18:56.362.
"We continue to make progress and improve the depth of the team," said women's head coach Yasmin Farooq. "One member of the eight and two members of the four walked on to the Stanford team last year, and the solid performance by both boats shows that our program is working. These women want to win. Relative to other Division I teams, our squad is small in numbers, but every person here is important and valued, and I think that has a lot to do with why they are so committed to one another as teammates."
The women's eight started sixth, behind the World Champion U.S. National Team, the Canadian National Team, Princeton, Yale, and Tennessee. Stanford cox and native Bostonian Jen Brown steered a flawless course.
"We were psyched to start towards the front of the pack this year," said junior Kathy Altman. "Jen's experience on the Charles helped us keep our confidence through the race. That, mixed with our fitness, helped us push away from the crews behind us."
It was the final Head of the Charles Regatta for seniors Kerry Birk, Brown, Stephanie Morrison and Jessi Reel, and their best finish ever.
The women's four started 14th, passing Colgate and then catching Tennessee in the first mile. The two crews battled for a half a mile before Stanford broke the Lady Vols and won by open water.
"We're really excited about our result," said senior Katie O'Neil. "Things got a little crazy in the middle with some blade-to-blade combat, but we stayed cool and kept pressing for a strong finish."
The Stanford four's inaugural Head of the Charles appearance was the best American finish in the event.
The lightweight crew's fifth-place finish in the women's lightweight eights was their best-ever finish in the event.
Stanford started 12th and passed three boats on their way to a fifth place finish overall and third among collegiate boats. The Cardinal rowed the course in a time of 17:31.065, 13 seconds behind Princeton and nine seconds behind Wisconsin.
"The team was determined to push hard all the way down the course," said lightweight rowing head coach Al Acosta. "It was great to see them pulling for each other."
The crews will return to action Oct. 27 at the Head of the American event in Gold Water, Calif.
Stanford men's four lineup
Stanford open women