Raiders Strike GOLD!

The 41st annual Head of the Charles Regatta was held last weekend in Boston, gathering a veritable who’s who of rowing from around the world. An estimated 300,000 spectators stood on the banks and bridges of the Charles River to see approximately 7,000 athletes show each other and the world what they’ve got. The regatta is among the highest attended rowing competitions in the world: there is even a selection committee that must turn away thousands of applicants each year, making room only for the most competitive and competent of athletes. For many, simply racing in the regatta is an honor and a privilege.

In the company of past and present world champions, the Colgate men’s rowing team weaved its way through the six spectator-laden bridges with astonishing speed – astonishing enough to earn gold-medal honors. The victorious crew, racing in the Collegiate Four with coxswain event, registered its finish almost 12 seconds in front of Bowdoin College and Lehigh University. The Raider four consisted of sophomores Mary Dekar (coxswain), Paul Jermak and Charles Feierabend, and first-years Kurt Miller and Will Haydock.

“The Four’s victory was a great surprise, considering the boat lineup was put together only three days before the race,” men’s head coach Khaled Sanad said. “They had an impressive first 1,000 meters, where they passed the two boats that started in front of them. The rest is history.”

“It’s nice to see all that hard work pay off,” sophomore 2-seat Feierabend said. “We knew for a long time that this would be a great opportunity to prove ourselves, and I think we had a good showing of it.”

The Head of the Charles Regatta is known around the world to be a premier fall rowing event, attracting Olympians and national team members from Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, Italy, Guatemala, the Netherlands and the United States. Other non-elite level teams were also in attendance. Cambridge University, the famous Leander Club of Great Britain, a team from Berlin and one from Lucerne all made the trip across the pond. Of our neighbors to the north, Brock University, Queens University and the University of Victoria all took the pilgrimage to the waters of the Charles.

Apart from the impeccable spectator-friendly environment that the Charles River provides, the challenge that the course presents to the competitors is second to none. Maybe this is why so many crews descend upon Beantown from far and wide each year; perhaps it is the tradition, since the race completed its 41st running this year. Then again, the sheer spectacle of seeing so many boats compete for two consecutive days may simply be enough.

Colgate also entered boats in both the men’s and women’s Collegiate Eight category. The women’s boat placed fifth in the event, edging out number-one seed Villanova followed by William Smith. The women are happy with their finish, although still hoping for a better finish next year.

“We had a hard time with the racing order, losing a lot of time with our attempt to pass Smith College,” women’s head coach Greg Kruczynski said. “After passing them, our split times were among the fastest in the event. The women did beat all of the Patriot League schools in the category, registering Colgate women’s top finish ever at the Charles. After seeing a national field, I can say that the Colgate women will have a strong team this spring.”

The men’s eight placed tenth out of 42 crews. This is a respectable finish, but it too will be looking forward to better days to come. The crew did meet the time standard for an automatic bid next year, to which the team looks forward in order to make its own run at the podium. “Starting order was a major factor in my eyes,” Sanad remarked of the Varsity 8. “The eight started 38th out of 42 boats, which meant that they had to try and pass a lot of crews, which is tricky on the Charles.”

Both men’s and women’s crew teams will finish up the fall season this weekend. The women head to Saratoga Springs for the Head of the Fish regatta tomorrow, while the men participate in the Head of the Schuylkill tomorrow in Philadelphia and the Princeton Chase on Sunday in Lake Carnegie, NJ.