In a standout performance, the rowing team earned two medals last weekend at the annual Head of the Charles Regatta, the largest two-day rowing competition in the world.
The varsity women’s four won gold, finishing their race as the leader of a 38-boat field, while the men’s placed fifth against 45 other teams. This is the first time that Bowdoin has ever come away with a gold medal from the Head of the Charles, and the first time the team has had two crews medal in the same race.
The winning women’s four was made up of Katie Ross ’14, Catherine Yochum ’15, Mary Brian Barksdale ’15, Sam Burns ’13, and coxswain Bonnie Cao ’13. The men’s four consisted of Cal Brooks ’15, Tucker Colvin ’13, Ben Geyman ’16, Mark Endruzzi ’15, and coxswain Jen Helble ’14.
On the second day, the men’s and women’s eights, in a considerably more competitive field, placed 33rd and 25th respectively.
“It was a row of historic proportions,” said Head Coach Gil Birney. “I couldn’t be more pleased.”
The Head of the Charles Regatta draws crews from across the nation.Teams come from larger colleges and universities than those that the Bowdoin squad is used to facing, including crews from the University of Virginia, the University of Michigan, and Penn State. Last year, the men’s four earned a medal in the regatta by finishing fourth, while the women’s four came in seventh place.
“For our program to win down there is a pretty spectacular thing,” Birney said.
The team has done fairly well in recent years, but nothing close to the successes of this season’s performance. The team won its first medal at the Head of the Charles in the fall of 1999 and has had a guaranteed entry into the tournament by placing in the top half of competitors for the past few years.
The men’s team had been in position to finish in third or fourth place this weekend before a piece of debris got caught in their rudder, rendering their coxswain incapable of steering properly for part of the race.
“We’re not exactly sure what happened, but we got some sort of debris, whether it was leaves or roots or sticks or something caught in our rudder and our coxswain lost all steering at the end,” said captain Tucker Colvin ’13. “We hit another crew, came to a complete stop perpendicular to the river, had to back up... and we still didn’t have steering so we were going all over the place. I think we were all just happy that we managed to medal.”
The women’s four had better luck. Captain Bonnie Cao ’13 said there was a six-boat pileup behind their boat in the middle of the river.
“Anything can happen, with this race especially, because it is so winding,” said Cao. “I think we had very good luck this year that nothing got in our way.”
The Head of the Charles is the team’s last official regatta of the fall, and the team will condition over the winter until the spring season starts.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Sam Burns '13 was a member of the class of 2015.