June 22, 2009
HENLEY-ON-THAMES, ENGLAND - In its first foreign competition ever, the MIT openweight women's crew raced this afternoon in the prestigious Henley Women's Regatta on the Thames River in England. The young boat competed in the elite eight category, the most competitive event at the regatta. Despite a spirited performance, Tech was knocked out in the first round by a composite crew of very accomplished oarswomen rowing for the Barnes Bridge club.
The Engineers jumped to an early and brief lead off the line at 45 strokes per minute, but Barnes Bridge proved to have more horsepower once both boats settled into their base cadence. The opposing crew moved ahead steadily throughout the race, though MIT was able to cut into that lead using a few powerful moves in the middle of the piece. As they began to sprint Barnes Bridge had about two lengths, but Tech took it up to 44 strokes per minute and reeled them in, finishing only a length and a half down on the winning crew.
"This trip really marked a turning point for our program," remarked Holly Metcalf. "The three seniors who came along had a chance to culminate their experience rowing for MIT, while the eight freshmen were able to discover a new level in their training and racing abilities that will pay off in the coming years. I am so proud of how our ladies raced today, they had an inspired performance. Barnes Bridge has an impressive crew, and we gave them everything we had - they earned this win and we wish them luck tomorrow versus Leander."
After arriving in England ten days ago, the Engineers were hosted by the Royal Air Force, who lent equipment and the use of their boathouse in Danesfield, just downstream of Henley-on-Thames. Using blades painted with the distinctive RAF roundel was an honor for the MIT crew. "We are extremely grateful to the RAF for their hospitality, and we look forward to returning the favor when they come to row out of our boathouse for the Head of the Charles again this fall," said Metcalf.
This race marked the conclusion of the 2009 season for the women's openweight crew. The heavyweight men will arrive in Henley this coming week to race in the Henley Royal Regatta.
More information about the Henley Women's Regatta and full results can be found at http://www.hwr.org.uk/.