October 15, 2015

Men Prepare Title Defenses with Head of the Charles

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The Cornell men’s heavyweight and lightweight rowing teams will be in action this weekend at the Head of the Charles Regatta. The event, held annually on Boston’s Charles River, will feature some of the best rowing teams from around the world. Cornell will square off against other college teams and several national teams.

“National teams are always a nice benchmark and this race will help us gauge what we are capable of doing this year,” said heavyweight senior captain Gregory Davis.

Cornell will compete in the 4+ and 8+ championships. Both the heavyweight and lightweight teams have a lot of experienced rowers, so they are hoping for quality results. Senior rowers constitute a large part of each team. Although Cornell rowing has high expectations for this season, the Head of the Charles Regatta will help the teams gain a sense of where they stand for the rest of the season.

“Our team has a lot of power. We want to be really competitive and are looking for a strong result,” said heavyweight head coach Todd Kennett.

The Charles River will present several challenges for the team.

“The course is quite long and leaves room for error at every turn,” said sophomore coxswain Nikhil Chuchra. “The river twists and turns both to the left and right throughout the course, which makes it difficult to navigate.”

“It is probably the most technical race out there,” said lightweight head coach Chris Kerber.
The Boston schools will be favorites to place well in the race. Having experience on the river provides an advantage and knowing the turns could shave seconds off of race time. The Regatta follows a race-against-the-clock format rather than a head to head format. Coach Kerber noted that team will not know how well they’ve placed until every team crosses the finish line.

The Head of the Charles is anyone’s race, but Harvard is always quick,” Chuchra said. “The Charles is their home course, making coxswains more savvy with its turns and course in general, and making rowers more comfortable with its conditions.”

Both the heavyweight and lightweight teams are hoping to produce a strong performance in the fall season, which will give the team confidence for the spring.

“This year we have the talent to make huge strides during the spring, so we need to race like it in the fall,” Chuchra said.

For the lightweight team, most of their races take place in the spring. The fall season is used to figure out what combinations work well and to determine what improvements need to be made for the spring.

“Our fall preparation is about building the foundation of physical stamina,” Kerber said. “We have three races in the fall so our time is spent on development for the spring racing season.”
Regardless of the result, the Head of the Charles Regatta will be a special experience for the Cornell rowers.

“When you have 250,000 fans from over 700 clubs and universities descending on the Charles, you have an event like no other,” Kerber said.