Women’s Crew builds teamwork in anticipation for Head of the Charles

The Tufts crew team rows against Middlebury College on the Malden River on Apr. 16. (Sofie Hecht / The Tufts Daily)

The Tufts women’s crew team returned to early morning practices this week after a much-needed offseason. Though rowing mostly competes in large regattas in the spring, including the regional and national regattas, the fall season remains highly competitive, especially in the Northeast.

The headlining regatta of the fall is the Head of the Charles. It features the best schools in Divisions I and III, as well as some of the best club rowing teams in the country. It is the most-publicized regatta of the year, and the Jumbos are setting their sights on a strong performance for the weekend of Oct. 23. Junior tri-captain Emma Conroy left no doubts about the team’s intentions.

“[Our goals are to] finish a boat in the top 10 in the [Head of the] Charles and re-qualify both of [our] boats for a spot next year,” Conroy said.

Sophomore Natalie Lowenstein echoed her captain’s sentiments.

“We want to finish well enough to re-qualify both boats,” Lowenstein said.

Teams can secure a spot in the Head of the Charles a year in advance with a strong performance at the prior year’s race. For the Jumbos, who compete with the best clubs but are rarely on the podium, re-qualification is a top priority.

The Jumbos finished eighth at the Head of the Charles last year with a time of 18:11:05, 46 seconds behind Division III winner Williams. Of the eight Jumbo rowers and coxswain, five were seniors. Despite these losses, the team hopes its young talent, coupled with its returning members’ experience, is enough to prove its strength.

The first regatta of the year for the Jumbos is not until October, which gives the team plenty of time to work out boat arrangements, get back in shape and build the chemistry critical for success in the sport. This proves difficult every year for a sport like rowing because there is often so much turnover in the boats.

Conroy captains the Jumbos this year alongside senior Hayley Cohen and senior Natalia Kastenberg. 

“Last season was a success but there was much room for improvement going forward,” Conroy said. “We are focused on improving team cohesion, drive and depth.”

Coach Brian Dawe, Conroy and Lowenstein all praised the newly graduated rowers from last year that the team had to say goodbye to. In particular, Dawe praised the ability of last year’s boat to work cohesively, especially in a tough race like the Charles.

The team will certainly miss the experience and leadership that last year’s senior class brought, but it is looking forward to the impact fresh faces can have going into their season. The team is just getting their first look at the new incoming first-year class this week, but maintain high hopes for the newcomers.

“[I’m excited to work with] this new, very tall freshman class,” Lowenstein said.

The Jumbos start their season in Putney, Vermont on Oct. 1 at the Green Mountain Head Regatta. They then race in the Head of the Snake for their final tune-up before the Head of the Charles. They close their season the following week in the Head of the Fish.