There was a collection of some of the world’s best athletes and a crowd that reaches up to the tens of thousands, all gathered for an event that generates unparalleled enthusiasm. Yes, the annual Head of the Charles Regatta took place this past weekend, drawing 11,000 rowers.
Among the many athletes at this event? A group of Michigan rowers who sought some early experience before their season officially began.
“I think it’s great,” said Michigan coach Mark Rothstein. “It’s a great event — there’s a couple hundred thousand people there watching, you know, rowers don’t typically get those kind of crowds. It’s just fun. It’s a fun event, and it’s good to race so many fast teams and get a sense of where we are and where we need to go.”
The Wolverines had two boats at the regatta in the women’s championship eights Sunday afternoon. The first of Michigan’s varsity boats (1V8), coxed by sophomore Kathryn Boyle, placed 11th in the race and ultimately fifth-best among all collegiate programs competing in the event. The second varsity eight boat (2V8), coxed by senior Alexis Jones, finished 30th out of 36 boats.
The Wolverines value any experience at this point in the year, as Rothstein finds himself coaching a young team. The 1V8 boat consists of four underclassmen with two freshmen in Anneka Allard and Annika Hoffman.
“We’ve seen a lot of improvement,” Rothstein said. “It’s a very young team — and I think across the board, not just the crews that raced here, but just the whole team has had a lot of improvement, but we still have a long way to go.”
The Wolverines entered the event as the sixth-ranked collegiate boat in the event, so they essentially maintained expectations early in the year.
With two boats ranking in the top 30 at one of the largest rowing events in the country, Rothstein was proud of his young and talented crew.
“Ultimately, it’s a fall event and we are a spring sport so the results don’t affect anything,” Rothstein said. “There’s less pressure, but you are racing a lot of the other top collegiate crews, so it just brings a little more importance to the event.”
Michigan competed against top collegiate talent early in the race, facing a Washington team ranked No. 1 nationally. The Wolverines finished 27 seconds behind the Huskies and just four seconds behind Syracuse and Virginia. Michigan finished as the highest-ranked Big Ten team, setting the tone for conference play early as they seek to carry momentum into a crucial winter training period.
“I think this is a great group,” said Rothstein. “We have a long way to go, but I’m really excited for the spring.
“I thought we had a good showing — I thought the team did a nice job.”