Crew Cruises Past the Competition

Colleen Burke and Kate Laughton, Staff Writers

On Oct. 21 the Oakland Strokes Rowing Club competed at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston. Both the men’s and women’s boats performed well in the youth division. The varsity women’s eight placed second while the varsity women’s four placed ninth. The varsity men’s eight placed tenth out of 85 boats.

For rowers, crew isn’t just a sport, it’s an entire community dedicated to practicing six days a week, three to four hours a day. Each member is an important part of the team and benefits greatly from the rigorous practices and friendships created by participating in Oakland Strokes. All this work can eventually pay off by being chosen to compete at prestigious regattas.

For the past two years, 23 rowers from Oakland Strokes have been honored by going to the Head of the Charles. This is an opportunity to race against other elite teams and reach out to colleges and recruiters by displaying their talent in the long and intense head race.

“Head of the Charles is basically the most famous and largest regatta in North America,” Erik Johnson ‘13 said. “Clubs from all over the world come to spend a weekend racing in Boston and it’s awesome that a sport like rowing can take you across the country to compete with international clubs. There’s nothing quite like it.”

Over 9,000 rowers and 300,000 spectators attend Head of the Charles each year. Since so many people attend this, planning the regatta takes a great amount of time. A full time professional staff of four work all year along with hundreds of volunteers who meet weekly.

The 23 people attending the regatta are comprised of team members of two girls boats and one boys boat. Hannah Stenovec ‘14, a varsity rower on Oakland Strokes, was one of the few lucky enough to be chosen to attend and compete in the Head of the Charles Regatta.

“I was super excited to go to this regatta,” Stenovec said. “I went freshman year and it is a really cool way to expose yourself to colleges that might be interested, and it’s fun to see people I know who row on the east coast.”

The varsity women’s eight boat was expected to place first out of 85 boats.  “This put a ton of pressure on us because we were expected to win and keep the ‘reigning champion’ title,” Laura Rosas ‘13 said. “Unfortunately, as a whole, our boat wasn’t mentally prepared enough as we should have been and lost to a boat from Saratoga Springs, New York.” Although the boat was disappointed, they were still proud that they beat their Bay Area rival, Marin.

Rowers were selected to go to the Head of the Charles based on their fitness and erg scores achieved at their practices. Miramonte students attending this regatta include Rosas, Ellen Pate ‘13, Lizzie Pate ‘13, Johnson, Marie Johnson ‘16, Karmi Chan ‘13 and Stenovec.

These rowers were in Boston from Oct. 18-21. During this time rowers competed in a five kilometer head race, in which boats begin at separate times and compete for the fastest overall time. Head of the Charles is the largest and most competitive head race in the world and takes crews around 16 to 19 minutes to finish.

“I’m not gonna say I survived, I say I thrived,” Stenovec said.