Crew teams prevail at Head of the Fish amid nor’easter conditions

The Tufts men's crew team competes against Wesleyan, University of New Hampshire and Bates on April 14. Allison Culbert / The Tufts Daily Archives

The Jumbos battled through the first nor’easter of the year at the Head of the Fish regatta in Saratoga, N.Y. on Oct. 27, their final event of the fall season. The team found the meet, which was called off at 1 p.m., to be a strong opportunity to prepare for its spring season.

“Head of the Fish is a great chance for us to scope out a lot of the tough New England schools that we will face in the championship races towards the spring,” senior James Miller said. “Since we are rapidly approaching the long dark months of winter training, the next time we race a lot of these schools will be in May at New England Championships.”

The conditions were extremely challenging, according to senior Bibi Lichauco, with wind gusts of more than 20 miles per hour and a driving rain. Nonetheless, the weather did not stop the Jumbos from closing out their fall campaign on a positive note.

“While it’s unfortunate that the weather cut the day short and a number of rowers did not get a chance to race, I am very proud of the showing we had, and I know that there will be more to come in the spring season next April and May,” Miller said.

The Jumbos who did compete turned in strong performances. On the women’s side, senior co-captain Libby Lichter placed fourth overall in the Women’s Collegiate Singles, finishing in 14:19.79.

“I think this race is the best way to end our fall season,” Lichter said. “It’s another regatta with a great sense of humor — first place prize is a mounted, bedazzled and glitter-covered fish head. The entire women’s team will race multiple times over the course of the day in a variety of events, including mixed boats with members of the men’s team.”

With the conditions growing increasingly nasty, the women’s collegiate eights took to Fish Creek. Tufts’ first varsity eight powered through, finishing ninth in a time of 12:00.17, ahead of Trinity, Middlebury and Amherst, among other regional competitors. Two Tufts entrants raced in the second varsity eights event, with the A boat placing second over Wesleyan and UMass with a time of 11:57.68 and the B boat placing 12th with a time of 13:07.97.

While the veteran Jumbos performed well, the first-years ultimately stole the show.

The women’s novice fours clinched a victory, bringing back a fish head trophy to proudly display at Tufts’ Shoemaker Boathouse. The Jumbos’ victory came just in time, as the competition was cut short soon thereafter due to the poor conditions. First-year Jordan Sclar coxswained an all-first-year team of Sarah Flower, Rachel Miller, Tina Feng and Karen Dooley to a 13:48.29 finish.

“I am incredibly proud [of] the resilience of our team during last weekend’s rough conditions,” Sclar told the Daily in an email. “I am so excited about the [novice fours] results and the strong performances from all of my teammates.”

The men’s team also put forth a strong showing, with James Miller placing third in the collegiate singles event with a time of 12:53.37. Junior Dean Ericksen and sophomore Charlie Cornillie placed second in the men’s doubles in a mark of 12:33.65, while first-year John Leslie and senior Nick Hartman finished third in 12:48.32, according to Miller. Finally, a corps of Tufts first-years fell to Trinity by a margin of just 2.89 seconds in the men’s novice eights.

“I’m really proud of [first-year coxswain] Tara [Curran] and her novice boys for getting out there and really [flying] down the course,” Miller said. “Though they only met each other a couple months ago, they have rapidly learned how to work together and have developed into an absolute unit. They went up against some formidable opponents this past weekend and showed that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the spring.”

On the whole, Tufts was content with its performance, especially given the conditions, but remains hungry for more headed into the offseason.

“Over the course of the season, our team has developed immense depth as everyone has worked very hard both on and off the water,” Sclar said. “Our captains and coaches have strived to create a strong and supportive team environment that will serve us well in the spring. As a [first-year], I am thrilled to have joined such an amazing group of strong women and I can’t wait to compete with them in the spring.”

The women’s team has now completed its fall season, while the novice men will have one more competition at the Green Monster Invite, hosted by Dartmouth on Nov. 5. There, the first-year Jumbos will get one more opportunity to gain experience before the spring races, which count for the team’s regional and national standings.

“I am definitely happy with the performance we laid down this weekend,” Miller said. “There are a lot of wicked fast rowers who come to this event, so the fact that we were able to be in our bag and come away with some medals is huge for us.”