Excitement, competitive spirit and incessant cheers of “Go Blue” resounded from the banks of the Charles River in Boston on Sunday, as the Michigan Women’s rowing team crossed the finish line in ninth place in the Women’s Championship Eights at the 55th Head of the Charles Regatta.
As the world’s largest two-day regatta and Michigan’s main fall event on schedule, there was much anticipation for coach Mark Rothstein and the team heading into the weekend in Boston.
“This is the only big fall event that we go to. We do some good scrimmages, but this is really the only large event,” Rothstein said. “It’s a really good event because there’s a lot of good competition, and also it’s just a huge, crowded event.”
Michigan’s 1V8 boat rowed well from the start, but finished in 15:48.22, nearly 43 seconds behind the winning boat from the USRowing Training Center to score ninth place on the leaderboard. The team’s second boat slacked further behind, finishing in 21st at 16:14.617.
Rothstein was impressed by how both coxswains, seniors Charlotte Powers and Erika Yasuda, guided the boats, considering the Charles River’s arduous course layout.
"It’s a difficult course to steer," Rothstein said. "And I thought they both handled it really well.”
Overall, the coaching staff felt rather indifferent about the regatta’s results for Michigan. Since it is so early in the season, a ninth-place finish from their leading boat neither excited nor demoralized the squad.
Michigan’s dominance over its conference rivals was a bright spot, however, as the team finished ahead of all other Big Ten boats from Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. Still, there is an expectation from leadership that Michigan must improve in preparation for its competitive spring season.
“The results are kind of secondary. I don’t think the results give me confidence or discourage me. I just think they are what they are,” Rothstein said. “We know we need to get a lot faster.”
Moving forward, Michigan will strive to establish a consistent training base during the season’s early stages and when the team transitions into winter training.
“This was kind of a test to see where we are, and I think at this point, it’s just we need to get faster on the erg," Rothstein said. "We just need to get more strokes and just keep training hard.”
The Head of the Charles marked the end of Michigan’s fall outdoor season and they will now move to off-water work through their winter training program.
“We got a couple more weeks on the water and that’ll be an important time to continue to get better," Rothstein said. "And then it’s just really about having effective training over the next several months.”