In the program’s 50th year, the Mercyhurst rowing teams once again made Mercyhurst program history. On Oct. 25, the Men’s heavyweight, Men’s lightweight and Women’s rowing teams traveled to Boston, MA to compete in the Head of Charles regatta. Earning multiple medals from all three teams, it is safe to say the Lakers seized their opportunities that day.
The Head of Charles is the largest regatta in the world. The Mercyhurst program sent three lineups to Cambridge river which included; a Women’s eights, a Men’s lightweight eight and a Men’s four.
What is a Regatta? Before we get into the great accomplishments of these Lakers, background information about this fairly uncommon sport seems necessary. The fall season is far different for this sport because the races are six kilometers instead of their usual 2k’s in the spring. Head races usually have around 40 entries per category, and each boat will start at a different time to make room on the course, therefore nobody will know their results until every-one crosses the finish line.
The Head of Charles is no exception to these requirements, the only difference about this fall classic is its amount of fame. High schools, colleges and alumni come from every part of the country to compete in Cambridge, MA.Starting with the Men’s light-weight team, they were the first boat in the water and finished in 12th place with a final time of 15:09.70. The Men’s fours for heavyweight rowing came next and took home the silver medal with a total time of 16:53.320. This is also the first time that the Men’s heavyweight has medaled in program history.
“The boat I was in did great and it felt good to make a statement this early and more importantly give Kristian Trebilcock, a 5th year senior, a proper send off for his last fall season on the team,” said freshman heavyweight rower, Nate Harris.
“The regatta went great for the entire crew. It was amazing seeing the hard work we all put in pay off this early in the school year, especially in the Women’s 8 who made history with their win,” said Harris. After that the Mercyhurst’s Division II national runner up Women’s Eights competed.
Extremely successful, the women got to reap the rewards of their training labor and took home the gold over 40 entires with a time of 17:16.704. This may seem like a regular win but the Mercyhurst teams have never had such great results. This is the first time since 2015 that the Mercyhurst Women’s rowing team has taken home a medal, during which they won silver.
“I think that this year is kind of special for everyone because we went back to the Charles after it was canceled last year. We were hungry to head race again, we love this course and we had absolutely no expectations when it came to our result,” said graduate student captain Anna Majek, who was seven seats in the Women’s eight.
“Our coach, Adrian Spracklen said that all he wants us to do is have a good row, so we can cross the finish line and feel good and accomplished, and that’s what we did,” said Majek. The emotions that both boats expressed conveys how big of an event the Head of Charles is for a rower.
“Winning Head of the Charles was an incredible achievement, but most of all it was a team effort. All of us worked hard during summer break to become even faster than last year, and I’m glad that it paid off,” said graduate student Ann-Kathrin Müeller.
“Our race plan was to be the fastest boat after the first mile and then just keep going,” said Müeller. One of the best-known regattas worldwide, spectators from Boston and other universities all gather to watch from the shore.
The people help to create an energetic atmosphere that differentiates the Head of the Charles from other regattas. The race is also dubbed a “cox-swains course,” which means that the person steering has the most responsibility. The many sharp turns of the Charles River cause many collisions every year. Another challenge comes with maneuvering through the many bridges without cutting over the buoy lines. Passing other boats along the course is also a dilemma as the process of yielding to the faster team can put the rowers at great risk and may even result in a halt of racing.
“We were docking after we finished one of our best races to date, but for some reason it was fairly quiet after we crossed the line and took our cool down strokes. As we were getting out of the boat after a quiet dock, Brady (a Mercyhurst rowing alumni) came running down to the dock with the number one on both of his hands and told us “You guys won! You guys won!” At the time we were totally shell shocked, we didn’t believe it and genuinely thought he was joking,” said junior Elizabeth Northup.
The Lakers beat some schools from all over the United States.
“We didn’t know what to do, but we all burst into happy tears and were jumping up and down and hugging everyone so excitedly. It was really so surreal to think that we just won Charles. Like we did that and did it so well, it was simply just an unforgettable row and had so many special moments and so much happiness.”
“This is my fourth time racing at the Head of the Charles and each time is a memorable experience. For the first time in program history the women brought home gold in the women’s collegiate 8 event. We were up against teams from all over the country varying from D1, D2, and D3 schools. The team is proud of what we were able to achieve and looking forward to our Spring racing sea-son,” said women’s coxswain Gabrielle Christello.
All of the Mercyhurst rowing teams finished out their fall 2021 season at the Cornell Autumn Classic which was held on Oct. 30 in Ithaca, NY. The Lakers will be back in the water this spring for their championship seasons.