October 24, 2005

Heavyweight Crew Finds Success at 41st Annual Head of the Charles

Oct. 23, 2005

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - MIT's heavyweight crew program enjoyed its best outing of the fall at the Head of the Charles regatta, arguably the nation's most recognized rowing festival. The varsity squad entered two eights during the two-day regatta, while the novice squad also turned in a strong result amid tough conditions.

MIT's second varsity opened for the team on Saturday with a fantastic race in the Club Eight. Crossing the line 31st out of 51 crews, the Engineers fared better than anticipated in a race filled mostly with first boats.

On Sunday, the Engineers' first varsity competed in the Collegiate Eight and finished 27th out of 41 crews in an extremely tight race. Strong currents and a stiff wind affected most of the weekend's competitors, but had the Cardinal and Gray finished 20 seconds faster than their finishing clip of 16:53, MIT would have placed 15 spots higher.

The heavyweight coaches were especially pleased with the performance, setting up the Engineers for a grand finale at the Foot of the Charles on Nov. 19, where all the local colleges and a handful of the nation's elite programs will be racing in four-man shells.

The freshman squad also fared well despite a pounding head wind that crippled everyone's times. MIT was hoping for a top-10 finish and get within 5% of the winning time, thereby earning a guaranteed spot closer to the pole position next year. The Engineers did not race in the Youth 4+ last year, and were therefore forced to the back of the pack with bow number 43.

MIT did not race the Youth 4+ event last year, so started at the back of the pack with bow number 43. The Engineers wisely left a large cushion of water at the start of the race, and passed two boats in the first mile. MIT increased speed in order to pass a third boat before the infamous Weeks Bridge turn, at which Stephen Young gained precious seconds on the field by taking an excellent turn.

In the last mile, MIT turned up the heat on a four from Carnegie Melon, eventually forcing them to the outside of the Eliot Bridge turn. After Eliot, the crew sprinted into the head wind for another minute and crossed the line within 2.9% of the winning time. MIT placed ninth overall in the event, and will be able to start at the front of next year's race.

"This is an important step in the heavyweight men's program," noted freshman head coach Dan Perkins. "Our finish today assures incoming oarsmen that they will be racing in the youth eight or four at the Head of the Charles in 2006. The youth four, comprised of James Stenard, Luke Urban, Richard Clay, Stephen Young, and Chris Baranowski, have not only honored the tradition of MIT crew at the Head of the Charles, but also insured that next year's class will have an even better chance to succeed."