The Bridge to the World
When the Harvard men’s heavyweights hit the water at the Head of the Charles Regatta this weekend, they’ll be taking part in a competition that will, quite literally, play host to many of the best crews in the world—including national teams from the United States, Great Britain, and France.
But while the Crimson boats might be representing a college rather than an entire nation, Harvard too will boast a collection of rowers pretty comfortable on the global scene, headlined by varsity eight veterans Richard Anderson and Anthony Locke.
Anderson, a senior from Victoria, B.C., and Locke, a junior from Isle of Wight, Great Britain, raced for their home countries’ heavyweight eights at the Under-23 World Championships in Racice, Czech Republic this past summer.
In the first heat, Anderson’s Canadian crew edged out Locke’s Brits by just over two seconds to win. According to Anderson, his boat benefited from taking a more tranquil approach compared to its immediate neighbors.
“Australia was on one side of us,” he begins. “They started screaming, ‘Australia! Band of Brothers!’ And they were totally serious about it...On the other side, the Russians were there, and the Russians started doing the same thing—in Russian.”
The Canadians’ response?
“We were in the middle, so we started meowing like cats,” Anderson says. “Then we started singing ‘Sexy Can I?’...It was actually the greatest way to start the race because we were so relaxed.”
But even without the help of Ray J’s relatively recent hit single, Great Britain turned the tables in a thrilling final, taking bronze while Canada crossed the finish line in fifth.
“World finals are incredibly exciting,” Locke says. “It was one of the closest races I’ve ever had...It was definitely very high pressure, but exciting racing.”
But while racing at Worlds was compelling in its own right for Anderson and Locke, the training process that preceded it might have been just as valuable an experience.
Anderson and the Canadians had the opportunity to travel throughout Europe, training in places like Prague and Holland before making their way to Racice.
“It was actually a lot of fun, mostly for the camaraderie,” Anderson says. “It was the last year I was eligible [for the U-23 team]...We got to go through the whole experience of a really big event.”
Locke returned to his native Great Britain, where th e U-23 club loosened its restrictions on admitting rowers attending American colleges.
“Logistically, it’s been hard to make us come back and do the trials properly,” Locke says. “This year we kept in touch with coaches [and let them know we were ready]...It was good to go back to England.”
The rigorous training involved in preparing for international competition not only served to prepare Locke and Anderson for Worlds, but for what’s to come this year at Harvard as well. Next spring’s sprints season will be both rowers’ second on the varsity eight. But while Anderson and Locke are now experienced members of the heavyweights’ top boat, they took markedly different paths to get there—despite the fact that they both arrived at Harvard with plenty of international experience, as well as potential, in tow.