Crew Team Competes at the Head of the Charles for First Time in School History


Courtesy of Coach Larson

The boys’ varsity boat maneuvering through a bridge on the Charles. (via Kristen Larson)

The boys’ and girls’ crew teams competed at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Cambridge, Boston on October 22nd. This year marked the 53rd anniversary of the race, and both teams rowed extremely well given it was the first time in school history that Pine Crest had ever attended the Regatta. The race took place on Boston’s Charles River, near Boston University, MIT, and Harvard.

Out of 85 boats in the race, the girls’ team placed 58th, and the boys’ team placed 56th. The tough, 5,000-meter race tests both endurance and power. The coxswains are put to the test as they steer through bridges, around curves, and away from other boats.

Aislinn Sullivan, a junior rower and the stroke seat on the boat, reflected on the the team’s first time at Head of the Charles and how it was different from other regattas she had raced at in the past.  “Racing at such a large event gave perspective into how widespread the sport of rowing really is…participating in a sport that isn’t necessarily ‘mainstream’ in South Florida, but going to race up north gave a reassuring feeling that there are tons of competitive rowers out there,” she said.

Both the girls’ and boys’ crew teams have been training since August for this very important race. The teams have practice from 4-6 in the afternoon Monday-Friday and a 7-10 morning practice on Saturdays. The teams have more recently added morning workouts before school to enhance their training regiment and get in more practice.

The Head of the Charles was much different than every other regatta the crew team has ever raced at before. The race course in Boston is curvy, contains bridges, and is crowded with other boats. The biggest race that the Panthers Crew Team competes in during the regular season is the FSRA, the Florida Scholastic Rowing Association, State Championship. This race is less than half the distance of the Head of the Charles, plus it is straight with no turns or bridges.

Jordan Zelch, junior coxswain and member of the boys’ varsity crew team shed light on his experience at the Head of the Charles and compared it to States.  “For starters, Sarasota’s course is about a mile long. It is straight and unobstructed by any obstacles. While racing at Sarasota, the boats all race head to head; they start at the same time so the rowers know how they are doing compared to the other boats. The Head of the Charles, on the other hand, is three miles long with turns of varying difficulties and six bridges. While racing at the Head of the Charles, all boats are staggered at the starting line, and they start ten seconds apart. By the time boat 85 crosses the line, boat 1 is halfway down the course; it is a race against the clock,” he remarked.

Although they did not make the top half in their races, both teams had an amazing experience in Boston and hope to race again at Head of the Charles again in the future. Rowing is the quintessential team sport, as you must rely on the other 8 people in your boat. The teamwork is unbelievable and the work accomplished by the end of the race is stunning. Racing at the Head of the Charles helped the Pine Crest Crew Team to expand their experiences in rowing.  We wish them luck as their season continues.