Head of the Potomac kicks off men’s rowing season

Media Credit: Matt Dynes | Staff Photographer

One of the men's rowing Four-With boats races down the river during the Head of the Potomac Sunday.

Men’s rowing launched its first boats of the fall season Sunday in the Charlie Butt Scullers’ Head of the Potomac Regatta on the Georgetown Waterfront.

The Colonials competed in both the Open Eight and the Four-With. The team’s three boats placed fourth, 10th and 12th in the Open Eight race. In both races, the U.S. Naval Academy was the only team to beat GW.

The women’s side was originally slated to race in the event but decided not to compete.

GW’s A boat finished the Open Eight with a time of 13:38.2 – 20 seconds faster than its 2016 time. The Colonials’ B and C boats finished with slower times than in 2016, but only by three and four seconds, respectively. In 2016, they raced a fourth boat.

In the Four-With race, GW’s A boat placed fourth and finished with a time of 15:09.2 – 20 seconds slower than last year’s first-place finish. The B boat finished with a time of 15:17.3.

For the first race of the season, the team moved away from its traditional lineup by taking the top three boats and mixing the rowers up. They were able to choose their own lineup and seating positions, assistant coach Stephen Hoskins said.

Sunday’s race was the inaugural event for the 2017 roster, which includes 17 new freshmen after graduating 12 seniors in the spring. The newcomers only had a few weeks to train as a team prior to their first race.

“They’ve been rising to the challenge, working on their technique and finding ways to get faster,” Hoskins said.

With only six seniors, the young team has relied on its experienced rowers to lead the way and help rookies adapt to the competitiveness of collegiate rowing, Hoskins said.

“We really hit the ground running. It’s been pretty easy coming in straight away,” freshman James Gorell — who raced in the Open Eight — said. “We felt like members of the team already.”

Although GW’s first weekend results do not stand out from previous times, rowers said their success has been due in large part to the team’s attitudes and leadership.

“We hold each other accountable,” sophomore Andy Green said. “We have a rule that no matter what’s going on outside of training, when you get here you put on smile and you want to row for the 35 or 40 guys around you and you work for them.”

In order to improve their times and compete to win races, the collective team needs to continue to practice, Green said.

“We all need to get on the same page about our technique again,” he said. “We have a lot of new freshmen who came from different rowing backgrounds.”

Along with different rowing backgrounds, members of the team come from different geographic backgrounds including England, Australia, Norway, Thailand and Taiwan.

The Colonials’ fall season includes four races to prepare the squad for the more competitive spring season, which includes the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship Regatta, an event the Colonials sent three boats to last year.

After winter break, the team comes back together in January to start training. At the IRA last year, the First Varsity Eight won the Third-Level Final to tie the best finish in program history at No. 14 in the nation. The Second Varsity Eight competed in a Petite Final and finished 12th, a program-best national ranking. The Third Varsity Eight finished third in the Third-Level Final, taking the national ranking of No. 15.

“The main focus for this fall is working on our technique and having everyone matching up together and rowing together,” Hoskins said. “We want to continue to increase the fitness.”

After nearly a month off, GW will return to action in Boston – where two four-man boats will compete at the Head of the Charles – and to Princeton, New Jersey, where the rest of the team will compete.

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