The Radcliffe women’s crew team started off its fall season with a strong showing at Saturday’s Head of the Housatonic despite the rainy conditions in Shelton, Conn. The team placed three boats in the top 10 of the varsity eight race and four in the top 10 of the varsity four race. The regatta—the Black and White’s first of its four fall season races—was the team’s first since the varsity eight finished seventh and the varsity four finished seventeenth at last spring’s NCAA Championships in Indianapolis. The Head of the Housatonic was also Radcliffe’s final tune-up before next weekend’s Head of the Charles Regatta.
“All crews fought hard and raced well,” said senior Eliza Flint, who raced for Radcliffe’s second varsity eight and second varsity four. “Each boat learned something about their race, and they can use that as fuel for Head of the Charles.”
Saturday was the 20th edition of the Head of the Housatonic, annually hosted by the New Haven Rowing Club. In the varsity eight race, Radcliffe’s top boat, stroked by senior co-captain Lizzie Fitzhenry, finished with a time of 14:40, good enough for third behind Brown’s 14:25 and Yale’s 14:33. Radcliffe’s second and third boats finished ninth and tenth with times of 15:06 and 15:13, respectively.
The team also entered three other boats in the varsity eight race, with the first boat finishing 17th after posting a 15:41, the next 20th with a 16:02, and the last 27th with a 17:06.
In the varsity four race, Radcliffe’s top boat finished first with a time of 16:35, edging second place Yale by 14 seconds. The Black and White also had boats finish fourth, ninth, and tenth. Radcliffe also had boats finish 11th and 12th to give the team six in the top 12.
The weather was definitely a factor throughout the day as heavy rain led to poor visibility and high water levels.
“I think we learned what it takes to prepare for a race,” said senior co-captain Jenny Wong, who coxed the first varsity eight and first varsity four. “This weekend it was a little bit tough in terms of traveling, and there was a lot of rain. So it’s definitely [important] staying focused when there are a lot of distractions, which there certainly are during Head of the Charles.”
The regatta featured many top high school, college, and club teams from New England and New York, including 30 boats from 11 schools in the varsity eight race and 21 boats from seven schools in the varsity four race. The course at the Head of the Housatonic is 2.7 miles, slightly shorter and less problematic than the three-mile course Radcliffe will be navigating next weekend. While races in the spring are 2,000 meters, fall races are more of a marathon than a sprint.
“For the long distance racing, the idea is to have the best possible endurance as you’re sustaining a very high intensity for a long period of time, so that’s where the fitness base really comes into it,” Flint said. “There are different mentalities to it and you have a different race plan.”
The team used the race as a gauge of its fall progress, since it was the team’s first chance to compete against other collegiate programs. This was Radcliffe’s first time participating in the Head of the Housatonic since 2012 when it placed second, fifth, eighth, and tenth in the 22-boat varsity eight race and first, fifth, ninth, and tenth in the 15-boat varsity four race.
“Across the board, I think we were very strong,” Wong said. “I think it was a really great opportunity for us to get a first race experience and learn some things with Head of the Charles next weekend.”
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