Boston, MA – The Lions Rowing Club competed for the third time in the Women's Club Eights event Saturday, October 20th at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Due to last year's second place finish, and an obscure Head of the Charles rule that prohibits competitors who have placed in the top-five from returning to the Club event, the line-up for the Lions consisted of an entirely new squad. Racing for the Lions, from bow to stern, Kersten Valentine-Rothenberg, 2-seat Erica Anderson, 3-seat Adrienne Lao, 4 Jessica Wortman, 5 Nora Waite, 6 Karin Conroy, 7 Ann-Marie Cody, stroke Cassandra Plas, and coxswain Liz Greenberger.
The group performed exceptionally well on race day, placing 17th overall, and 6th out of the "club" entries (excluding collegiate entries). Unfortunately, the Lions picked up a 60 second "failure to yield" penalty which is added to the official times, pushing the crew's final ranking to 35 in the field of 51.
"We came here with a goal of being top 20 overall, and top 10 within the clubs, and we shattered that," said Coach Sara-Mai Conway. "This is a great achievement by a great group of athletes. Five of the nine in this boat learned to row post-college, and it's great to show everyone that you can be competitive and at the top of the field at any age. It is unfortunate that their achievements today were overshadowed by a questionable call by the officials, but we'll be back next year."
For a play-by-play of the racing in Boston, here are some thoughts from Liz Greenberger in the coxswain's seat...
The launch was quick. So many boats lined up waiting to launch from the wobbly temporary dock. 'Hope the stability of the dock is no indicator of the stability of anything else...the boat...the rowers...me? The warm up is a snail-paced crawl up the Boston side of the Charles River...sometimes by fours, sometimes by sixes switching back and forth from pair to pair, avoiding the buoys on the port side through boat congestion up past the Harvard Boathouse.
Finally the river opens up a bit and we can go all 8. Four singles in front of us traveling up the river also, I'm carefully trying to avoid them and making sure we go through the bridges only 2 at a time. Finally up in the basin, the wind is picking up but there is welcome space. We can get up to speed now at 28 for a minute and 30 for a minute. By the time we finish the warm up, I can see the boats in our category taking the turn and lining up. We do the same. As we approach the starting queue on the Cambridge side we line up parallel to the boat from Tennessee. Holding our point is a challenge with the wind. I keep calling on Kersten and Erica to hold us straight. Listening, listening listening to the referee. Ladies, we're on the paddle...half pressure...three-quarter pressure...approaching the start. I hear the announcer calling our name...full pressure...and we are across the start line.
Nice start ladies...32 spm for 5 strokes...stretch it out now...to 30...nice! Great point, great rhythm, great rate.
We're moving along Magazine Beach...staying close to the buoys but not too close...aware of the singles that might be launching. As we approach River Street Bridge, we are slightly left of center aiming for Western Ave. Bridge. We got it. Keeping the power on and the rate steady, we approach Western Ave. Bridge. Cassandra says, we got a boat moving closer. A quick look back and I see they are a bit off. We can make it through Western Ave. Alone. I glance back quickly and they are approaching. My mind starts to sort out which side they want. They are dead behind us now...not choosing a side but I know the starboard side is the better route before the sharp Weeks turn. Do they want the starboard side? or port? Wish she would choose. They are getting closer now. I move to the less optimal route, inching over to port...thinking it might screw up my Weeks turn but I need to give them the optimal route before the turn. They are SOOO close now...GIVE ME POWER NO WAIT. We have to pull away from them, we are 4 inches from bow to stern. PULL IT UP LADIES..NOW. What! They did not take the starboard side...the optimal side...they are moving to our port side. Well, I'll keep where I am, let them go port and then make the turn to Weeks.
Whew! Quickly, quickly we are at Weeks, making our turn. They have moved up ahead of us now. We're both moving toward Lars Anderson Bridge and ...we are there. Oars clash..."stay in it ladies" keep focused...two more strokes and we are out of the Anderson Bridge and moving apart from each other. They now have the optimal side...the port side and are able to hug the buoys around the 180 degree turn. We are moving along trying to stay as parallel as possible but we are on the outside of the turn. "Ports go short" ..."Stay long starboards" ... around the turn and under Elliot St. Bridge. They are ahead now but we are not far behind. "Keep the power on Ladies...we are straightening out...coming along the tree-lined shore. "How much more??" someone yells. "I see the finish line...about 400 meters off. We are going to increase the leg pressure..no chaos..just increase the pressure here. NOW. Nice...we're closing in on the finish. Stay with it. Fifteen strokes..come on this is what it's all about. We are unbelievable!" 3, 2, 1, paddle. WHEW. Fantastic.