Men's Champ Eights, Cal too Much for Competition, and Course Record

Matthew MacCormack – Posted on October 23, 2017

California was the class of a record-breaking field the Head of the Charles Men’s Championship Eight on Sunday afternoon, cruising across the sun-splashed waters of the Dirty River with a time of 13:27. Cal’s time obliterated the 1997 U.S. Rowing team’s record finish by more than 30 seconds. And they had to be that much ahead of the old mark. The ten boats behind them also bettered the previous record

Temperatures hovered around 70 degrees before race time, and the warm water and tailwind fueled the record-breaking results.

“It made us feel like we were home in California,” said Golden Bears’ associate head coach Scott Frandsen. “Some years it’s snowy and freezing and sometimes you’ll get a weekend like this.”

The Golden Bears beat out the “Great Eight” rowing under the colors of Wairau Rowing Club (13:30), based out of Grovetown, New Zealand. The Wairau team was but together by  Robert Manson, the Kiwi sculler who set a world-best time in the single 2017 World Rowing Cup in Switzerland in June.

Third-place went to Yale (13:30.50), with the Bulldogs edging rival Harvard by more than four full seconds. Northeastern University’s crew captured 5th with a time of 13:41; the Huskies best finish this century, and their highest finish ever under Coach John Pojednic.  The Canadian national team finished sixth.  The good news for defending champion Washington was a time that bettered the course record by 15 seconds. The bad news was it was good enough for only a disappointing seventh.

The other boats bettering U.S Rowing’s 1997 record were Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, and Boston University.

Cal was lucky it rowed as quickly as it did–the team had to skip the post-race awards ceremony in order to catch a flight back to the West Coast. After finishing in second-place the last two years – including last year to Pac-12 rival Washington – the Golden Bears were thrilled to bring home Head of the Charles hardware for the first time in school history.

“This year, there was really no other option for us,” said sophomore coxswain John Amorosana. “It’s definitely big for us.”

Amorosana said the Golden Bears noticed they had an advantage right around the turn at Week’s Footbridge.

“That’s when we really started to pick up the pace of our race and gain traction on the other boats,” the coxswain said.

Frandsen called the victory a “great final punctuation mark” to the weekend. However, he maintained that there’s no time to sit back and rest on laurels, with the Intercollegiate Rowing Association season beginning in the spring.

“It’s a nice little addition to a solid weekend of racing for of the guys,” Frandsen said. “[But] there’s little correlation between who wins Head of the Charles and who wins the IRA.”