This weekend the women’s crew team battled cold, snow and some of the best rowers in the world at the Head of the Charles regatta in Cambridge, Mass. They came home proud.
Because of the level of competition in the race, the Yale women’s team entered only three boats, all of which performed strongly. The championship eights came in third place, losing only to the United States National Team — who took home the gold medal this summer at the world championships — and the ASR Nereus. This team is commonly referred to as “The Great Eight,” and is a composite of the four best pairs in the world. In the championship fours the Elis placed sixth, and in club eights they finished second.
Coach Will Porter said he was incredibly proud of the team’s performance at the regatta.
“We did a really great job concentrating on our task and staying focused internally,” Porter said.
Staying focused was especially a challenge this weekend not only because of the fierce competition, but also because of the preview of winter weather.
“The weather was miserable,” Porter said. “It was cold and rainy and then started snowing on Sunday afternoon. Like any outside sport, it’s a factor, but every team has to deal with it.”
And they did. The championship eight team rowed its way to third place through the cold and snow.
Captain Taylor Ritzel ’10 responded surprisingly well to the nasty weather conditions.
“It was so fun!” she said.
Ritzel agreed with Porter that the team truly held its own against tough competition.
“We went in not letting those teams be a distraction,” Ritzel said. “We stayed focused internally and we were able to meet the challenge.”
In addition to the weather, the team also had to worry about the difficulty of the course. The Charles River offers a much windier route than most races. It was up to the coxswains, Erica Segall ’13 in club eights, Sarah Brownlee ’11 in championship fours and Mia Kanak ’10 in championship eights, to determine how to handle the complicated course, and the team believed they did so very well.
In championship eights, despite losing time-wise to the U.S. National team, the Elis never let the world champions pass them.
“We did everything we talked about, we rowed well together, and it was a very strong race for us,” Ritzel said.
Yale women’s crew races at the Princeton Chase, a collegiate-only race, next weekend.
“It’s a much cleaner result than the Head of the Charles,” Porter said. “It’s a great race.”