2016 Season Review, Part I

As Riverside Boat Club prepares for the 2017 outdoor rowing season, it’s a worthwhile moment to look back at a very successful 2016. The club’s depth and quality was reconfirmed at the 52nd Head of the Charles Regatta in October. Powering through the wind and rain, its 77 entries won the MacMahon Cup, the regatta’s points trophy, for the second year running. Part I of this review highlights the contributions of the sweep programs. Part II will follow with the club’s scullers, juniors and the High Performance Group.

Women's Sweeps

Nine rowers and two coxswains from ten different universities joined Riverside’s women’s sweep team in June to train for the U23 and the senior summer racing season. Its competitive season kicked off in Philadelphia’s Independence Day Regatta. Configured in a variety of lineups making up eleven different boats, they raced in the Women’s Open 4+, Women’s Intermediate 2x, Women’s Intermediate 4+, Women’s Intermediate 4x, and the Women’s Intermediate 8+. The 8+ rowed to a first place finish. Philadelphia was followed by a fun home race at Cromwell Cup. The U-23’s wrapped up their summer at Canadian Henley with a strong showing, while a number of the women’s sweeps full-time members joined Riverside’s team at Masters Nationals in Worcester.

As fall approached, coach Nik focused the team on the Head of the Charles Regatta. With new members and a few familiar faces bringing the program to twenty-four rowers, it entered and won the lottery to enter a fourth boat. After racing in all three Head of the Kevins, the team produced strong HOCR results.  Its first 4+ was forced to take the outside of the turn coming around Elliot Bridge, but still finished with a time of 20:28.205 for 17th overall. The second 4+ had a time of 21:06.332, placing 37th in the field of 59 boats.  The 8+, maintaining a steady pace throughout the race, finished in eighth with a time of 17:19.613. On Sunday, the club’s lightweight 4+ defended its 2015 title.  It finished second behind Western Ontario with a time of 19:32.658, more than a minute ahead of the third-place boat.

Men's Sweeps

The men's sweep program inaugurated its racing season at the Independence Day Regatta in Philadelphia as well, making the finals in most of the events it entered. It put three boats into the Intermediate 4+ final, placing second, fourth, and sixth. In the Intermediate 8+ event, the men placed second and fifth while the open 8+ earned a third place finish. Building on the momentum achieved in Philadelphia, the men finished first and second in the open 4+ along with a first and third finish in the open 8+ in Riverside’s Cromwell Cup.  After some fine tuning, they headed to the Canadian Henley. The program’s robust squad boated two senior 8+s and an U23 8+.  In the finals, one senior 8+ placed fourth and the U23 8+ earned a fifth place.

After a few weeks of recovery, the team regrouped for the fall races. Its HOCR goals included defending its 2015 Club 8+ title and earning a guaranteed spot in the 2017 Club 4+ event.  The 4+ did indeed secure a 2017 entry while missing a top-five place by one boat.  Crossing the starting line in a driving rain, RBC’s 8+ finished in fifth place overall but, as the regatta’s top club crew, was awarded the special medal for the second year in a row.

Masters Sweeps

The 2016 season kicked off with the revival of women’s masters sweep rowing after a seven year hiatus. At the suggestion of the masters men, the women joined forces to launch Riverside’s first mixed sweeps program (blog link: RBC Debuts Mixed Masters Sweeps Program). Trained from May through August by Holly Metcalf, 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist and M.I.T’s varsity women’s coach, and by Karen Chenauskey from September through October, it attracted a number of new members. With an active roster by the end of the year of 16 women, 36 men and eight to ten coxswains, about 25 rowers—eight to ten women and 12-16 men—pushed off the dock three mornings a week.

The team produced impressive results over the summer, including regional regatta wins at Mayor’s Cup (Providence, RI), Festival Regatta (Lowell, MA), and the Cromwell Cup. It brought Riverside’s programs to a new level at Masters Canadian Henley by chartering a bus to and from the regatta, with commensurate results.

Stripes were ubiquitous at USRowing Masters National’s 4-day regatta in Worcester. Combining with open rowers, Riverside masters fielded boats ranging from category AA (21+ year average boat age) all the way to category G (65+ year average boat age). All total, 76 Riverside athletes raced in 95 events, winning ten golds, six silver, and 12 bronze, an impressive feat considering the number of events that required heats and semis to make it to the finals.

The Riverside mixed master’s program fielded a remarkable 40 seats in the Head of the Charles Regatta. The Men’s Grand Masters 4+ successfully defended their title with a first place. The men’s Senior Master 8+ passed a number of competitors to finish an impressive seventh out of 62 boats, and the Senior Masters 4 rowed to a strong 13th. The paparazzi’s favorite, however, was the Men’s Masters 8+. As they clashed oars with Fat Cats at the Eliot Bridge, an epic ejector crab launched Jeff Angler into the Charles. With hundreds of spectators as witnesses, he bobbed up, pulled himself back into the boat, and off they rowed to finish the race in 14th place. Photos of the crab blew up the internet. Meanwhile, the Masters women’s 8+, rowing strong and steady, avoided crabs and finished 17th. The Mixed Masters 8+, dressed as Where’s Waldo, passed five boats in high winds to finish sixth in the Directors Challenge Mixed 8+.

Masters Sweeps Medal Summary

1.     Mayor’s Cup: 1st W4+, M4+, M2-, MX8+; 2nd W4+, M8+, MX8+

2.     Festival: 1st M4-, M4+; 2nd M8+

3.     Cromwell Cup: 1st M4+ (40+), M4+ (60+), M8+, W8+, W4+

4.     Canadian Henley: 1st M4+ B; C; & F categories

5.     Masters Nationals:

a. Gold: M1x Open A, M4+ Open C; M4+ Club F, ML1x G, W2- Open AA, ML1x E, M2x Open A, MX8+ A, W4x Club A, W1x Open A
b. Silver: M8+ Club B; M4+ Open E, W2x Open B, WL1x A, M4- Open C, W1x Open A
c. Bronze: W4x Club B, W1x Open F, M4+ Open F; MX8+ C, M4+ Open B, M4x Open B, W8+ Club C, MX8+ C, W4+ Open AA, MX4x A, M2- Open A, M4- Open B

6. Head of the Charles Regatta- Gold- Men’s Grand Masters 4

Compiled by Dick Garver from reports on the masters men and women sweeps by Janice Hayes-Cha, Karen Chenausky and Todd Milne, Jeff Forrester on men’s sweeps, and Victoria Goetz and Beatrice Sims on women’s sweeps.