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2018 Championship Eights

By Calli Remillard and Marisa Goolgasian
Posted on October 21, 2018
2018 Championship Eights
The U.S. women beat runner-up Stanford by 17 seconds while the U.S. men (inset) held off Yale by three. (Photos by Riley Robinson)

The 54th Head of the Charles was a challenging but triumphant return to winner’s circle for the USRowing program on Sunday, with both men’s and women’s boats taking first place in the Championship Eights.

“We felt like we had to win. The most important thing is coming here and representing the US,” said men’s four-seat Tom Dethlefs. “This is our own territory, so we had to make a statement. We wanted to finish first as the USA.”

Thousands of spectators crowded the banks of the Charles, braving the cold, windy day to watch the most anticipated event of the regatta. Fans were not the only ones complaining about the day’s conditions; severely strong headwinds and whitecaps plagued every boat on the course throughout the entire day.

“We knew there were going to be tricky conditions, strong headwinds, we had to dig in and push from the start,” said Dethlefs.

The U.S. men chased a strong Yale boat up the course. Yale lead through the first three checkpoints at the Riverside, Weld and Cambridge boat houses. Both boats’ coxswains executed nearly perfect turns into the Eliot Bridge, commonly regarded as the trickiest point in the course.

In the final stretch of the race, however, the Yale boat fell behind, allowing USRowing, who had since overtaken the first seed Cal squad and bow three DRV Dortmund boat, to cross the finish line at 14:49, nearly three seconds faster than Yale’s final time, 14:52.

“We had a really important boat in front of us, the German Eight,” said Dethlefs. “We just tried to step on the gas the whole way and stay aggressive from the start to the end.”

Brown finished in third at 15:07.230.

Following their gold medal performance at the World Rowing Championships in September, the women’s boat battled through tough conditions on the Charles, posting a time of 16:41, nearly 17 seconds better than second-place Stanford. Like every boat on the river today, the winners had to contend with winds that sometimes gusted to 25 miles per hour.

“It went pretty well,” second-seat Felice Mueller said. “I think we did a good job just trying to stay internal and row above the conditions. It was really, really windy but I’m glad we could pull it off.”

After the race, everyone was talking about the conditions. “It was absolutely crazy,” coxswain Katelin Guregian said. “We were Bow No. 1, so it’s really kind of hard to tell when you open up, when you start in front like that. I didn’t know until we got off the water and someone told us. But we knew that we had a pretty gutsy race.”

Guregian said that Sunday’s race was one of the most difficult races she’s been in.

“I know that every time we had a boat stopping wind, we just tried to keep going,” Guregian said. “[Felice] told us that she was having fun until the first 10 strokes. The wind was just so crazy, so it was a challenge.”

Mueller, who also rowed the Women’s Championship Singles on Saturday said that there wasn’t any point during the race in which they were confident in winning.

“I think we all kind of were feeling like ‘Oh my goodness, we just have to finish this race,’” Mueller said. “It was a tough day out there but it was also very fun.”

By Calli Remillard and Marisa Goolgasian
Posted on October 21, 2018