Women’s Champ Eights


Great Eight coxswain Jack Carlson drinks from the winner's cup.

Great Eight Scullers Prevail

By Miharu Sugie

As the women’s Great Eight, rowing under the colors of the Cambridge Boat Club, chased the U. S. Rowing boat through the Eliot Bridge, the crowd clapped and rang cowbells louder and louder. Perhaps they sensed that something very dramatic was about to happen.

“The U.S. [Rowing team] was leading us pretty much the whole way, and they were leading us at Cambridge Boat Club, so like 750 [meters] to go, they were beating us by 0.3 seconds,” said Jack Carlson, the Great Eight coxswain. “And we ended up beating them by a second. We had a great sprint which really helped us.”

Carlson’s teammate, Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova was ecstatic that her team claimed the first place that U.S. Rowing had claimed in last year’s Head of the Charles.

The world champion who won gold in the London Olympic’s single sculls rowed for the Great Eight boat in the 2012 Regatta. Her team was overtaken by U.S. Rowing after the Great Eight was penalized for missing a buoy on the river, adding 10 seconds to their time.  Like last year, Knapkova decided to join a Women’s Eight team.

“It’s awesome,” Carlson said. “I mean, they are the best women’s eight in the world, you know in the World Championships, so to beat them means a lot, means a lot to everyone in the crew, for sure.”

The Great Eight was organized by Oxford-educated Carlson and Olympians Rebecca Scown and Emma Twigg last year. The new team Carlson organized with Scown and Twigg include other well-acclaimed, international athletes like Knapkova and Olympian Inge Janssen. Knapkova and Janssen, like many others, usually do not compete in sweep rowing.

“It was a challenge because I’m used to single scull and it’s completely different,” Knapkova said. “But I enjoyed this race.”

With a team composed of scullers, it may seem like unifying the team may be difficult. However, the Great Eight proved that wrong.

“Even though we haven’t really rowed together, and even though most of the girls only scull most of the time, they are the best in the sport,” Carlson said. “None of this would have happened if [our sponsors] didn’t give us the money to bring everyone over.”

Carlson added that it was not exactly easy to organize the team and prepare for the Head of the Charles. However, he said “it paid off and it’s a great feeling.”

The Great Eight’s sponsors include Resolute Racing Shells, Concept 2 and Shimano.

Despite the challenge, Knapkova said that this year, her team evaded the Great Eight’s fate in 2012 and rowed with confidence and composure, thanks to a coxswain the team can trust.

“It’s really great to beat an American eight because it doesn’t happen often,” Janssen said. “I’m feeling really good rowing with the other girls.”

Janssen and the other girls’ teamwork and commitment showed in today’s race, according to Carlson.

“The big challenge obviously, always on a boat like this, is getting everyone on the same page,” Carlson said. “Everyone just had a great attitude and made it happen.”

As the sunset reflected on to the Charles River’s quiet, peaceful ripples, the Great Eight rowers drank champagne out of the trophy cup they won: the Governor’s Cup. According to Carlson there was more celebrating planned for later in the evening.






Volunteer for HOCR

image description

Make this year’s Head Of The Charles® a success. There are many opportunities to get involved over race weekend and before.