By Margaret Baker / For WLAA
The Huron River Rat Rowing team, coached by Mike Taft, participated in history last weekend, racing in the Head of the Charles International Regatta on the Charles River in Cambridge, MA. Having qualified for the event two years prior, the team sent two four-person boats to Boston for their three-mile race through a storied course that takes the rowers through seven bridges and past MIT and Harvard Universities.
The event, launched in 1965, now hosts more than 11,000 athletes who compete in 55 different race events over a three-day period. Athletes from some of the most prestigious rowing programs in the country and around the world travel to take on the challenge of this most demanding of race courses. Thousands of spectators line the riverbanks and bridges. Racing is highly competitive; boats pass each other, and oar clashes and even boat collisions are not uncommon, all adding to the excitement.
The Youth Fours events had 84 competing boats that race against the clock. The River Rats–Eliza Van Ee, Audrey Wu, Maddie Kieft, and Anika Lautenbach, with their coxswain, Abby Steele–set as a goal to finish in the top half so as to maintain their qualification for next season. Their second objective was to complete the complex course in under 20 minutes. The results? An astounding 19th place with a time of 19:55.50, well under their goal time, and the third highest place ever for the Rats in Boston.
The Huron Boys four rowers were Theo McGovern, Nico Pontius, Lee Fingar-Myers, Tyler Parrish, coxed by Simon Shavit. Their race did not go as well, as several clashes with other boats slowed them down, and they did not place finish high enough to requalify. Their race, however, was hard-fought all the way and was certainly an experience they will not soon forget.
River Rat Head Coach Taft stated, “Our rowers always look forward to this event, and we are proud of how they all competed. The Head of Charles race is unrelenting and filled with possibilites for both success and misadventure. We experienced both this year. The Girls Four, two of whom are seniors, “paid it forward” so next year’s crew has the opportunity to return. Well done by all.”