Think Racing HOCR is Tough?

Try Doing it Twice in Two Hours

By Calli Remillard – Posted on October 21, 2019

(Photo by Calli Remillard)

When the USRowing A boat pulled into the dock after their Championship Eights race on Sunday, Alexander Richards had less than an hour to get out of the boat, run a half-mile down to the Cambridge Boat Club, get in another boat with his father, and row the two-and-a-half miles down to B.U. and the start of the Parent-Child Doubles Event. They made it with just three minutes to spare.

“I did not have the closest [call getting to the parent-child race], we found out,” Alex said after the day’s events. “[Lucy] Koven was in the Women’s Championship Eights, so she actually had even less time than I had. But it was tiring; it makes the warm up a little different.”

The Richard’s row down to the start was their first time rowing together in over a month. “We had one row in the double in early September,” Chris said. “We finished, it was all right,” he said, sounding very much like the long-time Belmont Hill rowing coach he is. “I think we row slightly different styles, even though I coached him back in the day. It takes a while to meld styles and we haven’t really had the time to do that.”

On a perfect weekend for rowing, the Richards’ time in the double was over two minutes faster than a year ago, but they still finished second to former Harvard rower Andrew Holmes and his dad Martin of Britain. The Richards might have been the only rowers in the field who missed last year’s brutal headwinds. “It’s definitely warmer and there’s a tailwind this year,” Alex said. “Last year there was a big headwind, so we might’ve done a little better in the headwind. But we never get to row together, so that makes a big difference.”

Though he now lives on the west coast and trains full time out of the URRowing training center in Oakland, Alex calls himself a proud Bostonian, having grown up in Watertown and attended Harvard. The 24-year-old started rowing in middle school, training with his dad at Belmont Hill. He first experienced national success when his Belmont Hill four finished second at the 2012 USRowing Youth National Championships, and by 2013, Alex was rowing with the junior national team. He joined the senior national team in 2017, and will be a strong contender for a seat in an Olympic boat next summer. And for all his success, he credits his dad as being the most influential person in his athletic career, as well as a personal hero.

“I’ve only had a few major coaches in my life and he was one of the first ones I had,” Alex said. “He was definitely the first to teach me to enjoy the sport.”