The Cornell Men’s Lightweight Rowing team notched a historic victory at the 54th Head of the Charles Regatta regatta last Saturday, winning gold in the Lightweight Eights event and a silver medal in Lightweight Fours.
The Red fielded two boats: an eight-man boat and a four-man boat. The boats finished with times of 15:43.872 and 17:53.270, respectively.
“It means a lot to the squad as a whole and [it’s] an honor to have achieved it,” said head coach Chris Kerber. “All of our athletes have been putting in the work and developing each day.”
The eight-man boat was composed of seniors Molly Rochford, Henry Ellis and Luke Sendelbach; juniors Sorin Koszyk, Cameron Bertossa, Luke Small, Alex Kost and Eric Lee; along with sophomore Andrew Hickey.
The four-man team was seniors Rori Henderson and Nick Anderson and sophomores Evan Krum, David Tigerman and Jules Kramer.
Indeed, the events of the weekend encapsulated a historic moment for the Cornell Rowing program. While the victory in the men’s Lightweight Eight is the third overall for the Red, it was the first since for the program since 1979.
“The Head of the Charles is the grandest scale of American rowing regatta. The reunion activity surrounding sport and competitive racing is off the charts,” Kerber said. “The weekend of the Charles hosted so many alumni, families and friends of the program and we had great mobs of Big Red all over Boston.”
Winning the Regatta was no easy task as the Charles Race is notoriously difficult. With heavy winds and choppy waters complicating the already difficult course, both boats had to make many adjustments throughout the course.
“Race conditions were dynamic — head wind, cross then a big tail to the finish,” senior Rori Henderson said. “With the courses many twists and turns and wind strength/direction … speed was constantly changing over the three-mile race course. No matter what the river threw at us we keyed in on technical focuses, relaxation and going as hard as we could in the poor conditions.”
“The conditions were really tough to deal with but you just have to put your head down, row your hardest and get through it,” sophomore Jules Kramer said. “Everybody else out there is going through the same thing as you, so you just have to put all your cards down on the table and trust your training.”
The eight-man boat was able to maintain a remarkable consistency throughout the entire course. Aided by a late push nearing the end of the race, the Red secured the victory in the eights event.
“In the roughest stretches we were able to keep good form,” Hickey said. “The wind and waves made it difficult to push through the water together for the first 12 minutes.”
“The steering and race tactics were challenging, the guys were able to add another layer of aggressiveness in the final stretch,” said Molly Rochford, the senior coxswain.
Consistency in the face of adversity — especially given the course’s difficulty — carried the day for Kerber’s rowers.
“Our crews did some work on Lake Cayuga amid wind and chop in the weeks heading into the race,” Kerber said. “But honestly this barely prepared our crews for the many added complexities of the Charles race.”
With an early victory under its belt, the Red will look to build off its initial success.
“The Charles was great, we have high expectations of each other every time we practice and go out there and race, so the season will sort itself out,” Kramer said.
The Red returns to action at the Princeton Chase on Sunday.