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PR3 Fours a Battle of Titans

By Eamonn Ryan
Posted on October 22, 2023
PR3 Fours a Battle of Titans

Skylar Dahl, Saige Harper, Alex Flynn and Benjamin Washburn took home first place prize in the PR3 Mixed Fours race yesterday. Photo by: Sullivan Madden

The Head of the Charles is by no means a dual meet, but only two boats raced in this year’s PR3 Mixed Fours, battling for first-place medals. Both had raced on the international stage in the past and were competing for a gold medal this year and will compete for US National Team spots prior to the 2024 Paralympics in Paris.

In a battle of 2020 Tokyo silver medalists versus 2023 World Championships silver medalists, it was the World Championships medalist who earned the win late Saturday afternoon.

It was bow #1 that took home the first-place medal, as Skylar Dahl, Saige Harper, Alex Flynn, Benjamin Washburn, and coxswain Emelie Eldracher crossed the finish line at 17:33.93, beating the previous course record set by the US National Team in 2016 by 37 seconds, etching themselves in the Head’s history.

“I don’t think it could be more of an honor to be able to represent at Head of the Charles for the USA.,” Eldracher said. “That alone is a dream, an absolute dream that I just have the honor of being a part of, and then to set a s record with these teammates of mine who I am inspired by every single day, it couldn’t be more of a dream.”

After the 2023 World Championships, where these five came just three seconds shy of a gold medal, they wanted to relish in their accomplishments as they prepare for their next shot at the world stage.

“This race was meant to be a celebration of this group and what they were able to accomplish over the summer,” Eldracher said. “And so I think this was more of a celebration row. And to put out a race that we’re really proud of just made it all the better.”

Each of the rowers, after being placed in the same boat at the Belgrade World Championships, had rowed in the HOCR before, but this was their first time rowing it together.

The US Rowing boat in bow #2 consisting of Danielle Hansen, Allie Reilly, John Tanguay, and Charley Nordin competed at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games and earned a silver medal in the PR3 Fours there. They rowed to a time of 18:09.38 Saturday afternoon and broke the previous course record themselves, but for them it’s all about steps toward what’s next.

“Every day you make steps toward you know, making the team,” Hansen said prior to the race. “This is definitely a step toward making the team, every day you can kind of showcase what you can do to yourself, to your teammates, to your country.”

The competition between the two boats, both of which have been on large stages representing the United States, was exciting for the rowers who would compete with the best of their colleagues.

“I think people on the US team, we’re here to level each other up. And so the more competition we can have, the better it is for everyone overall,” Hansen said.

The winners were just as appreciative for the competition between the two boats, especially since both boats broke the course record.

“Today, having just two incredible boats put out two amazing races was awesome for the PR3 Fours,” Eldracher said. “And so I just hope that we can continue raising awareness, raising excitement, and getting as many people who want to row out there be able to row out there.”

This year’s Regatta also highlighted the growth of para rowing and what the future of para rowing looks like. The mixed doubles inclusion race boasts the most boats in the event’s history with 27 this year. US Rowing Para High Performance Director Ellen Minzner hopes this is another step toward making the Head of the Charles a “truly accessible event.”

“The Regatta has really come around because of the strength of the athletes and how they’re competing and how competitive it’s been,” Minzner said. “So it’s been a huge mind shift among the Regatta and among the spectators.”

By Eamonn Ryan
Posted on October 22, 2023