Riverside sculler Catherine Widgery wins her race at Masters Worlds!

Catherine Widgery

Catherine Widgery

Riverside sculler Catherine Widgery competed at Masters Worlds in Sarasota, FL in the Women’s G-Single event. On Thursday, September 27, Widgery raced in the finals and won her race by open water with a time of 4:32.397. Congratulations Catherine!

Catherine will be racing at Head of the Charles Regatta on October 20 in the Women’s Veteran I/II and Senior Veteran I/II Singles.

The Legacy of George Faulkner

Riverside Boat Club 150th Anniversary History Series

By: Richard Garver and Susan Waldman

In 1919, Riverside Boat Club celebrated its 50th anniversary with a banquet attended by over two hundred at the boathouse. Dinner was followed by music and a speech by Harvard crew coach Bill Haines, after which Cambridge Mayor Quinn made a presentation to George Faulkner, former professional sculler, Harvard coach and talismanic Riverside figure.

Faulkner’s great great-granddaughter Susan Waldman and her husband Dennis recently visited Riverside hoping to swap information about him. The Faulkner family, with six year old George, left Ireland in 1847, the worst year of the “Great Hunger.” They came to Boston by way of St. John New Brunswick, Canada where they had been quarantined during a typhus epidemic, finally settling in East Boston.

Rowing soon became part of both George’s leisure and professional life. In 1856, at the age of fifteen, George took part in his first race, an impromptu affair between stevedore boats for a side bet of $10. Two years later he participated in his first regatta on the Charles River in the six-oared Shamrock. At the age sixteen or seventeen, George began rowing for a Commercial Street company that offloaded cargo from incoming ships. It was his job to race other companies’ rowers out to ships arriving in Boston harbor to secure the job of unloading them for his company. Faulkner might row upwards of 40 miles a day securing contracts for his employer. He would eventually purchase the company and run it well into his 80s.

George Faulkner (right) with his father Cary (left), circa 1857.

George Faulkner (right) with his father Cary (left), circa 1857.

Popular interest in rowing boomed following the Civil War. The region of the country that was most enthusiastic about professional rowing, and the wagering associated with it, was New England. Under the protocols of the day, Faulkner was considered a “professional” because he earned his living on the water. He was one of the most successful rowers in both sweep boats and singles. In 1876, the city of Philadelphia scheduled a regatta on the Schuylkill River as one of three sporting events (the other two being riflery and yachting) as part of the nation’s Centennial celebration. Faulkner entered the pairs competition with Charlestown’s Patsy Reagan, with whom he had been racing since 1868. Rowing out of South Boston at the time, he and Reagan defeated the vaunted Ward brothers and a celebrated pair from England to win the competition, collecting $1,000 and the title of world champions.

The popularity of rowing was so high in this era that Faulkner’s 1877 match race with Michael Davis, an Irish immigrant sculler and rowing innovator from Portland, Maine, attracted 30,000 spectators to the Charles. Faulkner was strong but Davis was a rowing innovator. He shocked Boston by defeating Faulkner. Buoyed by his victory, the following year Davis challenged any Boston sculler to race him over a four-mile course with a turn for $1,000 and the New England championship. Patsy Reagan, Faulkner’s 1876 Centennial Regatta pairs partner, was undefeated as a sculler that season and a hometown hero. He accepted Davis’ challenge. A longshoreman of few means, Reagan hoped to profit not only from winning the purse, but from betting what little money his family had and every penny he could borrow on the race.

Sponsored by the Old Colony Railroad, their race and three others that season were re-located from the Charles River to Silver Lake in Kingston, south of the city. The railroad had invested in recreational property on the lake and was hoping to promote sales as well as boost weekend ticket purchases. Anticipating unprecedented interest in the October 8, 1878 race, it scheduled a dedicated excursion train with several extra cars to transport competitors, spectators, and gamblers to the venue.

George Faulkner (standing) and Patsey Reagan, circa 1876.

George Faulkner (standing) and
Patsey Reagan, circa 1876.

Reagan started strongly. He had a solid lead past the viewing stands. As the boats came back into sight following the turn, which was beyond the spectators’ viewing range, however, they were dumbfounded. Davis had a clear lead. Reagan lost. The crowd rushed the ticket booths, suspecting that there was collusion or tampering of some type. Shots were fired as officials tried to control the angry mob. By the time a distraught Reagan had been safely escorted to a passenger car and the outraged spectators had boarded the excursion train back to Boston, it was quite late. In the falling darkness, the train ran into a freight car, throwing its cars off the track. Gaslights ignited a conflagration that killed nineteen people and injured nearly 200. Among the dead were Reagan and George Faulkner’s young wife, Margaret L. Brennan, mother of his two children. Reagan left a devastated young family. Six thousand people took off work to attend his funeral.

After retiring from racing, Faulkner became one of the most respected coaches of his day, including controversial stints coaching Harvard crews. During the 19th century, college rowing, like the other principal football, baseball and track, was organized on a club basis. Each club elected a captain, who was responsible for team selection and arranged for coaching, usually by a graduate with financial support and direction coming from alumni. Coaching by professionals was generally eschewed, but as college rowing grew in popularity, the pressure to win mounted. Despite Harvard’s reminder that, “it had been once agreed by Yale and Harvard that professional coaches or trainers would not be employed,”(New York Times, March 17, 1880) Yale, having lost to Harvard in fifteen of their last nineteen dual races, hired sculler Michael Davis, to Harvard’s condemnation. His crews were victorious in 1881 and 1882 but Yale reverted to amateur coaching after it lost to Harvard in 1883. The direction of condemnation reversed in 1885 when Harvard captain James Storrow, to maintain a veneer of amateurism, arranged for George Faulkner to be retained in a vague capacity other than as coach, in which he would observe his crew and give him advice, which Storrow passed on to his rowers. The ’85 crew, its stroke revised by Faulkner, beat Yale but lost badly in 1886. Faulkner continued to appear in Harvard coaching launches into the 90s. Nevertheless, from 1886 to 1905 Yale beat Harvard in eighteen of twenty dual races. In 1894, after being thrashed by Yale, Harvard rowers gave up control over their program to the college athletic department.

As the 20thCentury arrived, Riverside Boat Club was at its competitive peak. The Boston Globe’s rowing reporter proclaimed it “the first racing club in America.” Coached by Faulkner, its 1903 senior eight, repeating as New England champion, was considered the best the club had put on the water to-date. The Club’s J. Peterson, also coached by Faulkner, was a force in the senior singles.

Cary (bow) and William Faulkner (stroke).

Cary (bow) and William Faulkner (stroke).

Faulkner’s sons continued his Riverside legacy. To select the club’s intermediate singles entry for the 1908 nationals, it held a much publicized race among four members—reported to be the first time in Boston rowing history that there were four men in one club that were so competitive in their class. Up-and-coming Carey Faulkner, George’s son, defeated another second generation oarsman, Joe Ryan, prominent Cambridge boat builder William Davey’s son Frank, and J. Brassil to represent the club. Carey Faulkner won his event at Nationals. To celebrate, Riverside presented him with a gold watch and made him a life member. In 1909 he was the New England senior champion. Over the balance of the decade Riverside scullers were ascendant. Frank Davey won the New England singles championship in 1912. CareyFaulkner, his brother William, Davey, and Yale oarsman Henry Livingston formed a quad that won the U.S. National Championship in 1913. They repeated as champions the next year.

As Riverside’s 1919 50th anniversary testimonial to George Faulkner attests, he and his sons distinguished themselves during the fifty years period in which Boston rowing evolved from rough-and-tumble workingman’s competitions dominated by professionals into an amateur sport conducted by well-organized clubs and embraced by elite colleges.

All the medals!

Catherine Widgery

Catherine Widgery

RBC Sculler Catherine Widgery had a fantastic week out in California at US Masters Nationals. She medaled in all five of her events.

“I was proud to be there representing Riverside,” she says. “So many people who spotted the famous striped jersey came up to talk to me about what a great club Riverside is, and how they loved being a member or launching from there.”

Widgery took 3rd in the women’s open F double; 2nd in the mixed G-K quad; and won the open F quad and women’s open G single with a time of 4:49:194.

She is excited to continue her training for Masters Worlds in September, and hopes to become the fastest female rower in the world aged 65+.

Summer 2018 Racing Round up


Summer 2018 saw a flurry of RBC Stripes streaking down race courses and collecting hardware along the way. Here’s a quick roundup of where your fellow Stripes have been and how they’ve proudly represented our club on the water:

US Rowing Club Nationals Regatta

RBC fielded 34 entries across 25 events at the US Rowing Club Nationals Regatta. 14 crews progressed to finals. Some highlights:

  • Men’s intermediate lightweight 2- (3rd and 5th)

  • Men’s senior lightweight 2- (4th)

  • Women’s senior 4- (4th and 6th)

  • Women’s senior 4+ (4th and 6th)

  • Men’s senior 4x (4th)

  • Men’s senior lightweight 8+ (4th)

The men’s intermediate lightweight 8+ came less than 0.2 seconds behind Vesper in a nail-biting finish for second place.

Royal Canadian Henley Regatta (Masters)

RBC fielded 25 entries across 20 events at Masters Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. 19 crews progressed to finals and 10 of these placed in the top three, including:

  • Women’s AA-D 2x (2nd)

  • Women’s AA-B 4+ (3rd)

  • Men’s AA-C 2- (2nd)

  • Men’s 4+ (2nd)

  • Women’s AA-C 2- (3rd)Women’s D double (2nd)

  • Mixed masters eight (D-I 2nd)

First place finishes included the men’s E-I 4+ with Elizabeth Bayne, Rudy Schreiber, Nikolay Kurmakov, Ed Frankenberry and Ernest Cook; the men’s D-I 2- with Ernest Cook and John Yasaitis; and the mixed masters 8+ AA-C.

Royal Canadian Henley Regatta

Following the Masters regatta, RBC fielded 53 entries at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. 11 crews progressed to finals and 4 of these placed in their events, including:

  • Men’s U-23 8+ (6:16.74)

  • Women’s U-23 8+ (7:12.04)

  • Women’s 1x dash

The women’s U-23 4+ with Hannah Knight, Kate Maistrenko, Tal Gilad and Maya Hartleben (coached by Nikolay Kurmakov) won their event with a time of 7:20.84.

Q&A with the Men's Sweeps Head Coach, Tom Guncik

Tom Guncik

Tom Guncik

Tom Guncik is one of the latest additions to Riverside. The new men’s sweeps coach brings with him years of experience coaching collegiate rowers, and an exciting vision for the future of the men’s team. In her final job for the Communications Committee, Amanda Milad Cox checked in with Tom about rowing, coaching and how he came to Riverside.

How did you first get into rowing?

I learned to row as a freshman at Ohio State University. I had never heard of or seen rowing, but I followed my roommate to the crew meeting — thinking it was a fancy name for a debate team or stage crew — because they offered pizza and it might have been a way to make the largest university in the country feel smaller. Rowing that first year gave me a year’s worth of new athletic experiences along with supportive teammates, both of which helped me grow up and handle the stress of figuring out who I was.

And coaching?

I started coaching the freshmen while I was finishing my senior year at Ohio State, and got my first legitimate coaching job in 2008, a year after I graduated. At the time I was driving 30 minutes every day to a desk job in the suburbs of Columbus Ohio, and gas was $4.19 a gallon.

Then my former coach at Ohio State told me was he he was just named the head coach at Bates College, that the season started in a week and he was wondering if I was available. The chance to have a 10 month paid vacation in Maine seemed like a good alternative to what I was doing in Columbus.

10 months turned into three years at Bates as the men’s assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, and then I coached at George Washington University for six years.

As the new men’s sweeps coach, what are your goals for the team?

My short-term goal is to understand how the team and the club itself operate and to find areas where my experience can leave a positive impact. My long-term goal is to promote the team’s vision of providing a high quality, welcoming, and fun home for rowers who want to continue to train, develop boat skills and compete after college.

If you could coach any rower, dead or alive, who would it be?

When I lived in DC we weren’t allowed access to the boathouse one day because Michelle Obama took a sculling lesson. Coaching her would have been pretty cool.

How did you end up at Riverside?

After nine years of coaching in college, I wanted to see a different side of competitive rowing. I’d heard from a colleague about the position being open and had a meeting with Mike Farry and Graeme Calloway. I was intrigued by the character of the team and the competitive goals that the captains laid out.

How would you describe your rowing philosophy?

My philosophy is simple: when people I’ve coached look back on their time with the sport, I want them to be able to say that the experience created a positive development in some aspect of their lives.

Riverside Boat Club Sends Five Athletes to the World Championship

Written by: Annalise Routenberg

Kevin Meador

Kevin Meador

Five Riverside athletes will compete on two weeks at the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Jillian Zieff and Jen Sager will race a lightweight women’s pair; Kevin Meador will represent the United States for the men’s single; and Hillary Saeger and Sam Hausmann will race in the women’s and men’s lightweight quads. All five athletes qualified for their spot on the national team 2018 roster at the U.S. Senior and Para Trials II in early August.

Jillian Zieff in stroke and Jen Sager in bow.

Jillian Zieff in stroke and Jen Sager in bow.

Sager and Zieff have been best friend and training partners for six years, since they first started rowing together at Trinity College. That relationship continued through last year’s World Championship, where they raced for Team U.S.A in the lightweight women’s quad.

This year, they won their qualifying final with a time of 7:28.11, well ahead of Vesper’s second place 7:36.75

They say this year’s win is a culmination of years of hard work.

“It’s been truly inspiring to be supported and pushed by the entire boathouse,” says Zieff. “It’s been giving us confidence and I think it shows in our performance at Trials.”

Keavin Meador took an unconventional route to racing the men’s single. Before winning his event to qualify for World’s, Meador raced in the fall of 2017 with the men’s sweeps team and won the club 8+ event at the Head of the Charles. Meador only began full-time training for single’s events this past year.

Following the National Selection Regatta and an injury that took him off the water for six weeks, Meador returned to the single two weeks out from Trials. Despite the fact that this was only his second sprint-race in a single, he won his time trial, his heat and came in second place in the semi-final.

Meador then won his final to qualify for Worlds at 7:02.59, more than a full second ahead of Malta Boat Club in second, and five seconds ahead of Vesper in third.

“I am very excited for this opportunity to race internationally,” he says. “I hope to do every possible thing in my power to make Riverside proud.”

Hillary Saegaer

Hillary Saegaer

In the men’s and women’s lightweight quads, Sam Hausmann and Hillary Saegaer raced composite entries at Trials with fellow lightweight national team hopefuls. Saeger has been training in a quad here in Cambridge for what will be her seventh World Championship appearance; she has already medaled three times. Hausmann has been training for his event in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Both quads were uncontested at Trials, but had to meet a time standard to qualify for Worlds. The lightweight women’s quad finished at 6:42.51, and the lightweight men’s quad came through the line at 6:11.61.

Building Riverside’s Facilities Future—A Phased Approach

Riverside’s aspirations for renovating and expanding our boathouse entail design, financing and permitting challenges that will take multiple years to realize. As we work on those plans, the aging of our 1912 boathouse continues and there are safety and operational concerns to be addressed now. The good news is that the current approach does not conflict with investment in our existing facility. We formed an Engineering Committee led by Board Member Neil Harrigan and Building and Grounds Committee chair Carson Burrington to define the projects and oversee their execution.

New Docks

New Docks


Caro, Carson, Paul Martin, the Engineering Committee and the Board have been working for several years to investigate and design plans for the next generation of docks for Riverside. Many hours of research, photos, drawings, changes to drawings, teleconference calls and prototyping occurred before the team settled on final designs and vendors. Caro led many of these efforts on the ground level and approved final production plans, from concept to reality.

Renee Lanza headed up RBC’s permitting/regulatory efforts along with creating an RFP which captured our specs for the new dock, a scorecard for evaluating vendors and set up a timeline. In April 2017, Renee and our team settled on a handful of reputable vendors to invite to respond to our RFP with proposals.

In January 2018, after several conversations with vendors, review of existing prototypes and installations and subsequent deliberation, the Engineering Committee recommended that RBC pursue an aluminum-framed dock with composite surface decking. Through RBC member referrals (thanks Jim McGaffigan!), research and the RFP proposal, they found an able partner in Row America and its manufacturing partner, Poralu Marine out of Montreal Canada. This program allowed RBC to also rely on existing relationships with Eastern Seaboard Concrete Construction and GEI Consultants.


A partnership was struck between the three vendors and RBC to remove, demolish and replace our docks with Poralu’s state of the art system tailored to the sport of rowing. Specifically, they divided out the deliverables as follows:

  • Poralu Marine & Row America – In-kind construction & replacement of dock and swing dock

  • Eastern Seaboard – Crane-removal, demolition and disposal of existing docks; complete environmental remediation of the site.

  • GEI Consultants – Review of vendor proposals, preparation of project materials for Conservation Commission, onsite representation of RBC to the Conservation Commission.

RBC received tentative project approval from the Cambridge Conservation Commission and DCR in February 2018. Final approval from the Conservation Commission and the DCR came on May 21 and the Conservation Commission inspection was completed on June 12, 2018.

Carson, Caro, Neil and Evan developed logistics for readying the site for the 70-ton crane and dock sections that arrived from Canada. Our club members chipped in and spent several Saturdays clearing out, cleaning up, and improving the downstream construction site. The sequencing of events for demolition, removal and installation was a coordinated effort. Carson, Caro, Evan and program coaches worked earnestly together to modify rowing programs as needed to accommodate modified schedules that week.


Our communications plan for the membership included three town-hall style presentations and daily email updates for the membership. The old dock was closed for operation on Sunday evening, June 17 and the new dock opened for launching on Saturday, June 23. On time, on spec, and on budget.

We have asked a lot from our members this spring in terms of flexibility and disruptions to schedules. The timing of both dock and slab replacements in the same year was indeed a huge undertaking. However, the sheer momentum of it all did carry us to the finish line with few regrets, and RBC is all the better for it!

The geese were the first to arrive of course, but we have plans for them too!

Riverside Hosts 6th Annual Stripes Gala


On September 16, 109 Riverside members, family, and friends came together for the 6th annual Riverside Stripes Gala. The evening featured both a silent and not-so-silent auction, a literal wagon of meat, and an opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of the past while looking forward toward the future of Riverside.

Nearly 70 total donations contributed toward a grand total of $72,000 for the club. An additional gift of $25,000 brought the total to $97,000, a remarkable commitment from the attendees to the health and future of Riverside.

Donations will support the renovation of the docks, repair of the concrete foundations of the boathouse, the expansion of the facilities and boat bays and to continued support of Riverside’s High Performance athletes. To add your name to the list of supporters of Riverside, please consider a donation. Every contribution, no matter the size, makes a difference toward securing the future of our beloved boat club.

The evening featured a speech from 2016 Rio Olympic Silver Medalist and first year medical resident, Dr. Gevvie Stone. Dr. Stone spoke about her journey from high school crew, to Princeton University, on to the training to make the US National Team while simultaneously completing her MD at Tufts University. Her inspiring story is one of perseverance, commitment, and determination to achieve one’s goals. Thank you Gevvie!

Thank You Volunteers! The 2017 Gala was a smashing success and would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of all the volunteers. Most of all, thank you Christine Higgins for your hard work planning the event and coordinating the volunteers!


Riverside rows for cider & syrup

The Green Mountain Head was raced on a beautiful Vermont day, there were a lot of RBC rowers and many of them did well.  Pictured below are some of the Riverside rowers with their prizes of apples, cider and maple syrup!


  • Alex Brown won 3rd place in the M1X 19-34 category with Joseph Hanna right behind him in fourth place.
  • Peter Morelli won 2nd place in the M1X 35-44 category with Mike Farry coming in 4th place.
  • Sean Wolf won the M1X 45-54 category (beating Russ Cone by .4 of a second!)
  • John Tracey came in 4th in the 55-64 category with Mike Bannister coming in 5th.
  • Ilana Zeiff came in 4th in the 19-34 category with Sarah Cottrill coming in 8th place.
  • Elizabeth Diamond came in 4th in the 35-44 category.
  • Catherine Widgery came in 5th in the 55-64 category (at 64 is relieved to move up to the next category next year!)
Lib and Pete, enjoying the regatta.

Lib and Pete, enjoying the regatta.


  • Sean Wolf and Peter Morelli won the 80+ category (combined ages, they aren’t THAT old).
  • Hilary Saeger and A. Cruz won the women’s open category.