John Graves Looks to Break in the 1x Win Column

By Felippe Rodriques – Posted on October 20, 2017

After a runner-up finish last year, sculler John Graves is back at the Head of the Charles looking for his first victory in the Men’s Championship Singles. Graves’s boat will have the honor of Bow #1 on Saturday afternoon for the second consecutive year, a position he hopes can give him an edge over a deep field of competitors.

“It is definitely an advantage to be able to steer your own course and not go around anybody,” says Graves. “Sometimes you can feel a little bit alone up there, but it is the best position you can have, not having to row in anybody’s wake.”

The 53rd Head of Charles will be Graves’s eighth time racing here. He has finished second a twice over that span. In 2014, he collected his sole win in the Great Eight, which he will be also rowing this year.

In the singles, will be up against the likes of Swiss lightweight Michael Schmid (#2), But the rower he might fear most is Andrew Campbell (#16), the course record-holder who is always considered a threat by Graves, even in a post-Olympics year.

“Even if he is not in his best shape,” explains Graves. “He will nail the course, and, so he will be really good. He is still going to be one of the best guys for sure.”

The Graves family just might be the first family of American Rowing. In addition to John, Saturday’s champ singles field includes his older brother Tom (#13), a former Head of the Charles doubles champion together with ther eldest Graves sibling, Peter. His two big brothers are the guys who got John into a boat.

“I never really wanted to row and they really inspired me to want to do it,” said John. “I would not be doing what I am doing without their example. They have been just incredible role models for me.”

Graves just missed qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympic, his U.S. quad missing out on the last Olympic by a mere seven-tenths of a second. He and partner Ben Davison won the doubles at this year’s U.S. world championship qualifying, and finished ninth at the worlds. Davison rows for the University of Washington and will be a Graves opponent on Sunday, as Graves is slated to row as part of the Great Eight.

“He [Davison] is a really talented young guy. I think we have a good shot of doing well in the future,” says Graves, aiming for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

For the singles this Saturday, the sculler is locked in and looking forward to the fan atmosphere along the three miles. He is also hoping for the perfect line, and hoping on finally nailing the course. “I do not think I have ever had a piece here I get off feeling it was absolutely my best row. I think that is what I’d love to do. I would love it to be sunny and flat, and just to crush it, you know?”

It seems Graves will get his weather wish. Forcast for his Saturday afternoon start time calls for temperatures in the mid-seventies, and gentle winds of about eight miles per hour.