Silver lining for rowers in Boston

Heavyweight eight wins silver

The rowing team sent five crews to Boston for the prestigious Head of the Charles regatta but didn’t return with any gold medals. However, there was a silver lining for one of the men’s crews. The heavyweight eight finished second in the collegiate head race, 10 seconds behind the winning Western crew.

“We had some pretty solid performances from every member of the Queen’s teams,” said Rob Watering, men’s head coach.

All five crews finished their races in the top 15. The event was the 41st annual regatta held on the Charles River in Boston, Mass. More than 7,500 athletes competed in 26 different events with up to 300,000 spectators along the three mile course. The five crews Queen’s sent this year made up the largest contingent of rowers Queen’s has ever sent. Andrew Rastapkevicius, a member of the silver medal-winning heavyweight eight, was surprised by his team’s result. “[We] knew we had a good race,
but I didn’t know we did that well,” he said. “It wasn’t a result that any of us were expecting,” coxswain Carissa Di Gangi added. The men competed in a field of 58 other boats from both Canada
and the U.S. “It wasn’t really too much of a surprise for me, but it seems like more of a surprise for the athletes,” Watering said. “I think it was their attitude as a crew. The men’s heavy eight has really gelled as a crew in the last short period of time.”

Di Gangi added that most of the crew hadn’t rowed together before this season.

The difficult turns of the Charles River make it easy for crews to incur course violation penalties, posing challenges crews don’t see anywhere else. “One of the Queen’s coxswain alumni paid for all of the coxies to go to a clinic the day before the race,” Di Gangi said. “We had an Olympic level coxswain go through the race with us.” Rastapkevicius described the Head of the Charles as a “coxswain’s race.”
“The coxswain can make or break the race,” he said. “An average crew with a great coxswain will do
better than a great crew with an average coxswain.
“Carissa definitely stepped up her game and steered a perfect course.”

The other Queen’s boats also fared well, but outside of the men’s heavyweight eight, none placed in
the top five. The women’s heavyweight and lightweight eight both finished sixth, the men’s lightweight eight finished 13th and the men’s lightweight four finished seventh. The Gaels are currently preparing for the OUA Championships this weekend at St. Catharines, where Queen’s will face stiff competition from Western, Brock, Trent and McGill for the banner.

“We’re probably on the same tier as several schools, Brock being one of them,” Watering said. “Western is the defending OUA champions, and they’ve shown themselves to be strong in every single event,” Watering said.

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