A rower has to love the “big show.”
You’re at the largest rowing event in the world. Up to 300,000 people come for the two-day spectacle and they’re watching you go toe-to-toe, or bow-to-bow, against the best teams in the country. What more could a rower want?
How about a better performance?
That’s what the Michigan women’s varsity-four wanted yesterday after its lackluster performance at the 42nd annual Head of the Charles regatta in Cambridge, Mass. The Wolverines placed 16th out of 20 in the Championship Fours.
“The results were not what we were hoping for,” Michigan coach Mark Rothstein said. “The fours had some problems and ran into a buoy.”
Hitting a buoy on your way three miles upstream on the Charles River does not help speed up the boat, and neither did the 10-second penalty added to Michigan’s time, knocking them back four places.
But it wasn’t all bad for the Wolverines on Sunday. Michigan’s varsity-eight finished 13th out of 45 boats in the Championship Eights with a mark of 16:40.
“The eights ran very well,” Rothstein said. “I think our time was okay at this point of the season, but we still finished 13th, so we still have a lot of work to do.”
Even though the 13th-place finish was not what Michigan rowers expected, just six seconds separated them from sixth place in a field that included such rowing powerhouses as Yale and Princeton.
But Michigan shouldn’t worry about either performance, because the world’s largest regatta also includes many non-collegiate teams. Among collegiate crews, both the fours and eights finished ninth. And as big as the Head of the Charles regatta is, coach Rothstein knows that rowing championships are won in the spring, not the fall.
“(The Head of the Charles) is really not that important at this point of the year,” Rothstein said. “But it does give us a sense of where we are starting from. There were a lot of the best teams in the country there and now we know where we match up. Also it gives our athletes an opportunity to compete in front of a large crowd, something they don’t get to do very often.”
The Wolverines don’t hit the water again until Sunday, Nov. 5, at the American Heritage River Fall Classic in Wyandotte.