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In the 2019 season, Men's Lightweight Rowing placed first in the EARC sprints. Credit: Chase Sutton

This past weekend, all three of Penn’s rowing teams traveled to Boston to race in the world-renowned Head of the Charles Regatta. After last year’s cancellation of the regatta due to COVID-19, more than 11,000 rowers across the world returned to compete in the three-mile Charles River course for titles in 65 events. 

Penn women’s team had solid performances with the Club Eights placing fourth in its event, only five seconds behind the bronze finisher and 21 seconds behind the champion. Women’s Championship Eights placed seventh, with a 35-second margin behind the winner. 

“The Champ Eight result matched our previous best result in the event from 1981 and 1988, and being ahead of some traditional rivals is always helpful,” coach Wesley Ng said. 

Women’s Club Fours took 19th out of 52 boats; the Championship Fours made 11th place in 14 entries.

“The Club Eight, Champ Four, and Club Four for us were put together based on appropriate training groups. With our fleet damaged in the flood from Hurricane Ida it really changed our training groups significantly," Ng said. “I think that we’ve had to build more chemistry because we are in a temporary tent structure while the boathouse is being rebuilt.” 

Traditionally the most competitive team, the men’s lightweights had four boats entering the regatta. The men's Lightweight Fours continued their domination from 2019, when the Red and Blue placed first and fifth.

In Sunday's race, both lightweight boats pulled a strong start and stayed in the top-three of their event until the second checkpoint. 

The A boat remained on top of the race throughout, while the B boat was getting back and forth with MIT, Colgate, and Cornell shells. After some tough efforts, the A boat took gold with a less than two-second margin in front of Harvard. The B boat placed fourth, falling five seconds short to Colgate. 

“We haven’t been in this race for two years, and we haven’t raced a lot of teams in two years," Penn men’s lightweight coach Colin Farrell said. “[The team] has been making a lot of good progress and doing a lot of good work. We were more focused on ourselves and to get a good performance.”

“We got to open the distance pretty soon after the start of the race and we were able to hold them off for the rest of the race, maintaining the distance that we had gained off their boat,” senior lightweight rower Alexander Quinn, who stroked the B boat, said. “Our coxswain, Asher Gold, he did a very good job steering, very good turns. He had a perfect course.” 

Men’s Lightweight Eight also sent two boats to the regatta, aiming to build on to its second-place finish in 2019. Unfortunately, the Red and Blue were behind at the start and only managed to finish seventh and 14th, respectively. The 26-second margin between the seventh-place finisher and the champion reflected the competitiveness of the lightweight event. 

“Obviously we wanted to do better and to win the race, that was the goal,” Farrell said. “The challenge with the Lightweight Eight was that you are against everybody else’s best boat as well, and, you know, the fall was always a chance to try to get a look at where we stack up and where we feel we are at this point. So, the goal was to make progress to the spring season and to move up on the league board.”

The men’s Heavyweight Eights had its debut of the season in the regatta since it wasn’t able to race in the weekend before due to Hurricane Ida. The Quakers had a very young lineup with four freshmen, two sophomores, and two juniors. The boat fought hard, yet couldn’t keep up with other crews and finished 16th out of 18 entries in the Championship Eights event. 

All teams will be racing again this upcoming weekend in the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta in Philadelphia.