Tufts celebrated a record weekend at the Head of the Fish Regatta in Saratoga, N.Y. The event marked the end of their fall season, reflecting their hard work and improvement.
The women’s open collegiate quad was the highlight of the event, as one Tufts team — comprised of sophomore Emma Conroy and seniors Leah Fortson, tri-captain Rachel Siegler and Claire Sleigh — outraced their competitors with a swift time of 12:32:7.
“[The event was] almost eerie, since the closest boat behind them was almost a quarter mile down the line,” Coach Brian Dawe said.
The quad race proved that Tufts was an able competitor, although the absence of Div. I schools such as UMass Amherst could have also contributed to the lead, according to Dawe.
“University of Massachusetts Amherst was our main competitor this year, but they were at another regatta [this weekend],” Dawe said. “It definitely would have been interesting to have UMass there just to gage our time against top competitors.”
The absence of a top competitor did not diminish the magnitude of the Jumbo victory, however. Siegler, a standout of the weekend, also competed and raced into first place in the collegiate double — this time with classmate Laura Hoffman.
“No Tufts woman has won two races in a while,” Hoffman said. “It definitely was a highlight of the weekend.”
The Head of the Fish was also the culmination of a fall season spent in sculling boats and building up technical expertise.
This emphasis on sculling during the fall presented a challenge for the first-year novice eight. Racing to an impressive fourth place finish behind Williams, WPI and Wesleyan, the first-year newcomers established themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
“[We] had spent a lot of time in small sculling boats, so moving to eight boat and working well as a team was very rewarding,” first-year Tobey Solomon-Auger said.
This emphasis on teamwork also extended to smaller sculling boats. Solomon-Auger took home a gold medal alongside sophomore Arielle Mann in the open lightweight double.
“In the doubles the girls pick their own partners for the fall,” Dawe said. “[A large part] of rowing in my eyes is finding people who do similar things and have similar ideas. A good double requires two people that are really in tune, and in the case of Tobey [Solomon-Auger] and Arielle [Mann], the duo just worked really well together.”
Jumbos, Dawe said, emphasize the harmony of the team over the individual. He compared the team to a ballet corps to describe the level of teamwork necessary for a successful boat.
“In ballet, if you have one ballerina trying to do something different, it’s distracting, [and] crew is the same,” Dawe said. “That’s why we put an emphasis on perseverance and technical achievement. Everyone has to be working together to accomplish the same goal. Everyone has to have the same driving ambition to win for the movements to come together in a harmonious way. That’s when it all falls into place.”
Having completed the Head of the Fish, the Jumbos begin their winter off-season, before resuming their spring season in February.
“We ended the fall season on a good note, and a lot of our practices involved erging, weight lifting,” Forston said. “The winter season will be more exciting and a way to continue our forward momentum.”
Dawe hopes to further develop team camaraderie and place everyone on the medal stand this upcoming spring season.
Other NESCAC schools such as Williams, Wesleyan, Hamilton, Trinity and Bates will pose challenges come the spring, and Dawe views the winter season as a chance for Tufts to work hard, improve and perhaps enter the NCAA in the spring. The team sent one boat, which ultimately finished in sixth place, to the NCAA last year for the first time in eight years. The team aspires to meet or surpass this success this upcoming spring.