The Tufts men’s and women’s crew teams headed down to Hartford, Conn., on Oct. 6 for the Head of the Riverfront Regatta. Kicking off a year in which both teams are comprised of mostly underclassmen, as well as new coaches for both teams, the Jumbos found success in their season opener while testing the waters and dusting off the cobwebs before the Head of the Charles this weekend.
On the women’s side, Tufts rowed its way to the top of the field in every event it entered. At the end of the day, the women were three for three, earning gold medals in the first eight, open quad and open double events.
For sophomore Alicia Heia, a member of the first eight, coming into the first regatta of the season meant no expectations and a chance for everyone on the team to focus on its own race.
“We had some formidable competition from [Div. I] schools, UMass and UConn,” Heia said. “But because we had not had any regattas yet this season, we went into it just planning to pull hard and row our own race.”
Women’s coach Noel Wanner — who previously coached the men’s team — wanted every boat to have the best race it could but still had high expectations for his team, according to Heia. The results at the Head of the Riverfront left Wanner impressed and proud of his team. His new presence, as well as that of the new assistant coach Lily Carbeck, has brought about new opportunities for the team, Heia said.
“This year’s change in coaching staff meant that the team had the chance to reset and refocus on being a highly competitive program,” Heia said.
The men came into the Head of the Riverfront with a team largely consisting of first-year students. The new talent made it difficult to gauge how the team stacked up against the competition.
Sophomore Akash Maney felt the team fared well despite the many variables at play for them. The men competed in three eights, two quads and several doubles. They walked out with first and third-place finishes in the open quad event and a second-place run in the open double event. For the first eight — the top boat of the squad — an unavoidable collision led to a seventh-place finish.
“Our 1V boat was backed up by a broadsided Wesleyan 3V which slowed them down enormously so their time was not accurate,” Maney said.
Despite feeling that there is room for improvement, Maney explained that the team has improved enormously since last year and has the fundamentals to be a top team.
“We have a very deep team, and our erg scores particularly are a lot faster this year than they were last year,” Maney said. “We have a young team of very dedicated rowers who are committed to going fast.”
Both Jumbo teams head into their biggest race of the season this weekend at the Head of the Charles. In one of the largest and oldest head races in the world held at Tufts’ own backyard in Cambridge, the men’s and women’s teams are expecting a good showing.
The women are looking to build upon the early success they found at the Riverfront and requalify both eights for next year’s race in the collegiate event.
“We are happy with the early season win, but also look forward to racing at the Head of the Charles Regatta and Head of the Fish in Saratoga,” Heia said. “The women on the squad are excited to have a chance to compete at such a large scale event, and it’s been a great motivator for the team. We’ve put in the work, now it’s time to race.”