30 October 2023

HOCR: the cox’s view

Race report by Sonya Gladstone, cox of the men’s eight

The Leander club Men’s squad took a top eight and double over to Boston Massachusetts. The double had Oliver Costley at stroke and Rory Harris at bow. The eight was stroked by Iwan Hadfield, Dan Graham at seven, Matt Rowe at six, Sam Bannister at five, Douwe de Graaf at four, Miles Beeson at three, Tom Ballinger at two, Calvin Tarczy at bow and coxed by me, Sonya Gladstone.  

The double raced on Saturday in the Men’s Championship double event. They had to manage the challenging conditions of rain and a high tailwind. This was also the first time the double had raced the Head of the Charles together and Harris steered it incredibly. Despite the weather, and starting ninth, they managed to post the fastest time to each marker and won with a time of 16:09.3 with the second-place crew finishing at 16:16.8. It was a great showing of excellent sculling and a well-deserved win. 

The following day we competed in the Men’s Championship eight. We had to grapple with similarly challenging conditions with high head and cross winds throughout the course. From my seat as the cox, this made the steering of the already complicated Charles River, even more difficult. Despite these challenges, we started the race strong, handling the conditions well and establishing a strong pace past Riverside Boat Club, the first timing marker, putting us in second place to the US senior men’s eight by less than one second. We put in a large push through the next stretch of the race and went through the Weeks footbridge very well, arguably one of the hardest points in the race. At Weld Boathouse, the second time mark, we were still in a tight race with the US senior eight.

After a strong first half of the race, fatigue began to set in and the conditions dramatically worsened. We faced very strong gusts of headwind, and we had a taxing last third of the race. Unfortunately, we lost our lead and finished fourth behind a strong US men’s senior eight, Harvard varsity and Princeton varsity. Despite disappointment in not finishing higher, we did finish better than we did last year and felt it was a well-fought race from all. We offer our congratulations to the winners.  

With the increase in our performance from last year and a win from the double, the races proved to be successful. Given that some of us had never raced the Charles before, the experience was incredibly valuable, and we hope to have the opportunity to race it again and further move up the positions. The week of training in Boston was very productive and the race taught each of us a great deal with ways to improve for our upcoming head races in the UK.  

We would like to thank the Colgan Foundation and all the donations that made our race and trip to the US possible. We are so thankful to have your support in furthering our rowing experiences. We will walk away from the Charles with great memories and lessons from racing to take with us in the future.  

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