Women’s crew wins 11 of 13 races in opening spring weekend

Members of the women's crew team are pictured rowing in the regatta against Wesleyan, Wellesley and Bates on April 14, 2018. (Allison Culbert / The Tufts Daily Archives)

Back from a long offseason of indoor training, the Jumbos hosted two regattas on the Malden River, their “home river,” on Saturday and Sunday, winning 11 of the 13 races they competed in.

On Saturday, Tufts hosted Coast Guard and NESCAC opponent Trinity, and on Sunday, competed against Amherst and Smith College.

With beautiful early spring weather, the athletes had few external factors to deal with and could dial in on their races.

“It was near perfect conditions, which was kind of surprising,” senior and co-captain Libby Lichter said. “Normally there’s some wind or rain or it’s chilly, but we’re very lucky — where our course is it’s very protected.”

Sunday’s action only saw one loss for Tufts, as Smith’s first varsity eight (1V8) finished in 6:43.6 ahead of Tufts’ boat at 7:01.4. Tufts’ 1V8 later defeated Amherst by a six-second margin with a 7:02.8 time

Lichter, who was in the seventh seat in the 1V8, commented on her boat’s performance.

“[Smith] really busted out of the gates pulling out, for any Div. III team, a really impressive time in the 1V,” Lichter said. “They deserve a lot of credit there. They have not been known to be a competitive team in the past, and I think with Clare Doyle, their new coach, they wanted to be something different, and they are.”

The second varsity eight won both of its races on the day. In their first race, the Jumbos finished in 7:13.1 to the Pioneers’ 7:24.1, and in their second race, the Jumbos came in at 7:15.5 to the Mammoths’ 7:29.9.

“The 2V had really good warmups, so every girl in my boat felt strong and together,” Alicia Heia, one of the 17 first-years on the team, said. “We do a five-stroke start, and then a 20 high, and then a 10 for settling, and then right after that we were over a boat length ahead of every single team. We have a good start; we jump up.”

The 3V8 also defeated Smith by five seconds and Amherst by a whopping 30-second margin, while the 4V8 won in its only matchup of the day against Amherst.

The first race on Saturday, featuring the first women’s 1V8 up against Trinity, was the only loss of the day for Tufts. Trinity’s boat edged out Tufts’ only by half of a second at 6:56.47 to Tufts’ 6:57.16.

The Jumbos went on to win the other five races for the day. The first varsity eight defeated Coast Guard with its 7:08.86 to Coast Guard’s 7:22.37. The 2V8 boat, which went 4–0 on the weekend (won twice each day), flew past Trinity and Coast Guard. Tufts’ 3V8 finished at 7:27.42 ahead of Trinity at 7:52.91, and the 4V8 finished at 7:49.57 ahead of Trinity’s “3.5,” varsity eight, made up of rowers from the third and fourth boats, which finished at 8:11.38.

Lichter noted that the weekend’s results, more than anything else, demonstrated the team’s depth, as all four boats had success.

“All of our boats are performing extremely well across the board,” Lichter said. “I think that speaks to the depth of the team and how we’re getting stronger in a different way. It’s not just 6 or 8 people are standing out, we have 16, 18, 20, 24, 30 people that are really developing into competitive rowers and athletes.”

According to Lichter, the team has improved significantly in terms of depth, which has benefited their success in competition.

“As each boat was coming down the course today, it was really cool. Having been on this team for four years and having seen what the 3V and 4V looked like when I was a [first-year] and sophomore, to be like ‘That’s our 3V, they look so sharp,’” Lichter said. “The blade work is clean; the boat is running well. Overall, the results were encouraging for the remainder of the season.”

Heia agreed with Lichter’s observation of the team’s depth.

“I think that we pulled as well as we could,” Heia said. “The early season wins with the 2V and the 3V boost our confidence and make us look forward to next weekend.”

On Saturday, the team returns to the Malden River to host Bates, Wesleyan and Wellesley.

“Bates finished top at NCAAs last year. Wesleyan is a team that pretty consistently performs well, and Wellesley is also a team that has a legacy of performing consistently well,” Lichter said. “So that will be a big race for us kind of to see where our competition in the rest of New England lies.”

This weekend’s race is also Seniors Day, honoring the six seniors on the squad.