Record-Setting Times at the Charles

The 2013 Head of the Charles Regatta was yet again a season highlight for UVa. For the fourth year in a row the weather was great, leaving many to wonder when the next snowstorm was due. Saturday’s clear skies and tailwind made for record-setting times in many events.

With two UVa alumni 8s entered for the first time, the Hoo alums used erg tests to decide boatings for the Alumni 8 event. The challenge for seats proved worthwhile, as the A boat finished 9th in an event that has become increasingly competitive. UVa women’s alumni also raced an 8, and they won gold!

Racing with bow marker #1 for the second year in a row in the Collegiate 4 event, UVa’s 4 (C: Dan Schwartz, B: John McNulty, 2: Andrew Heinzman, 3: Keith Cascells-Hamby, and S: Nathan Heinzman) held off Michigan’s early attempts to pass, and maintained a narrow gap of open water throughout the race. Not until the final turn was UVa able to pull away from the trailing boat. Purdue made a push to finish 2nd, 1.6 seconds ahead of Michigan and 2.8 seconds behind Virginia. For the third year in a row, UVa won Collegiate 4 gold!

Capitalizing on the conditions, the young (two 1st year athletes in the crew) and undersized crew set a new course record! It was the 5th HOCR win in 5 years for the “Todd Tisdale ’74” shell, including head coach Frank Biller’s back-to-back wins in the Master’s 4 in 2009 and 2010.

On Sunday, UVa’s varsity 8 raced in the Collegiate 8 event with bow marker #1. The 8 fended off repeated attacks from the University of Michigan. Though the Hoos finished in front of Michigan, the Wolverines rowed a faster time than UVA and took 2nd place behind Drexel University (the 2013 Dad Vail Champion), who won the event by 2 seconds. UVa finished 3rd, 1.5 seconds behind Michigan. The Hoos were proud of their performance, and especially of their composure given the many closing moves from the competition.

The UVa women completed a 3-peat by winning the collegiate division of the Championship 8s again, finishing behind only the “Great 8,” the US national team, and the Canadian national team.

Arguably, the story of the regatta occurred just past the Eliot Bridge, in the Director’s Challenge Mixed 4x. Head coach Frank Biller and assistant coach Ben Carr rowed with two women from the Rivanna Rowing Club: Gia Deangeles and Anne Cann. After holding the turn into the bridge for too long, the port oars clashed with the bridge, breaking Frank’s oar in half. Going into “instinct mode,” Biller dumped his starboard oar and jumped out of the boat, much to the enjoyment of the crowd around the bridge, but to the dismay of the three remaining rowers, who finished the race without him. The 4x still finished 20th of 25 crews, with the 9th fastest time before handicaps.

For the men, women, and alumni, this year’s Charles was yet another terrific experience with lasting memories.