Tufts rowing begins season by dominating at Head of the Riverfront

The Tufts Men's Rowing Team at the fall-season opening Head of the Riverfront on the Connecticut River. Courtesy Lily Carbeck

The Tufts men’s and women’s rowing teams had an impressive start to their season at the Head of the Riverfront this past weekend, with several boats placing in the top 15 of their respective events.

In the Men’s Open 8+ event of a 2.5 mile course, the men’s first varsity boat finished in first place with a time of 13:38.27. The second varsity boat came in fifth with a time of 14:11.75, and the third and fourth varsity boats came in seventh and tenth, respectively. As there were 15 boats total in the men’s race, the Jumbos had a clear dominance over the event. The Tufts men’s team is led by senior co-captains Eoghan Downey and Henry Ross this year.

For the Women’s Open 8+ event, the women’s first varsity boat finished in a time of 15:54.47, placing second overall. With a time of 15:58.59, the women’s second varsity boat was close behind, finishing fourth in the race. The women’s third and fourth varsity boats came in 12th and 14th out of 24 boats total, also showing the depth of their team. Senior co-captain Alicia Heia reflected on the remarkable performance of the four women’s boats.

“I wouldn’t say it was a surprise, but it was a welcome confirmation of the work we’ve put in this year,” Heia said. “We work really well together and bring positive energy. … We had some of the best energy that I’ve seen this team start off with in my four years at Tufts.”

In the weeks leading up to the first race of the season, the coaches had the first two varsity boats constantly switching places in order to find the perfect combination. The strength of these two top boats showed in the race results.

“[The top two boats] were within four seconds of each other over the course of the race,” Heia said. “The depth and power is there.”

As the team got back into the swing of fall races after a long hiatus due to COVID-19, they were excited to be competitive amongst themselves as well as with other schools. One of the young talents, Isabelle Berman, competed in the women’s third varsity eight last weekend in her first collegiate race.

“The race was really great,” Berman, a first-year, said. “For everyone in the boat, it was the first race we’d done in awhile because of the pandemic, so it was great to have that feeling of being in sync with the boat again.”

The relationship between the captains and coaches has furthered the success and motivation of the team.

“The captains and the coaches have a fantastic dynamic this year, and we’re able to collaborate really well which means the coaches and the team are on the same page,” Heia said. “We have a lot of motivation, which is clear in the results.”

Since there was a lot of talent within all of the boats, there was a sense of overall team spirit rather than just individual boat support. This sentiment was felt throughout the entire team, echoed by senior captains and first-years alike.

“We came into it without a decisive character from each boat, so we were competing as a whole program, which meant everyone was pulling for the team rather than just the eight people beside them,” Heia said.

Berman echoed this.

“Everyone on the team, no matter what boat they’re in, has that drive to train hard and do well in races,” Berman said. “There’s a big team culture of putting your all into each practice, which is what makes us all really fast.”

Furthermore, with only a handful of upperclassmen, the team is younger and will rely on the freshman and sophomore energy for the rest of the season more so than past years.

“We have a super young team and they are really motivated and adaptable,” Heia said. “They learn really fast and we’ve seen a huge curve already.”

As she looked toward the rest of the season, Berman was looking forward to getting faster and stronger each race and practice. Heia was also excited about the potential of the team, especially considering how dedicated each rower has been thus far.

“We did well at this past regatta, but we have the potential to go even faster in the future,” Berman said.

Both the men’s and women’s teams will compete again at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Cambridge, Mass., on Oct. 23.


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