Men’s rowing competes in world's largest regatta

By Carley Kulenkamp

The Illinois men’s rowing team sent two crews to Boston this past weekend to compete in the largest regatta in the world.

The 51st Head of the Charles, held in Boston, Massachusetts, hosted more than 750 clubs and 2,000 boats this past weekend. Competition at this race ranged from high school teams to international rowing clubs.

Illinois’s rowing club sent a crew to compete in the Men’s Club 4+ division and Men’s Collegiate 4+ division.

Men’s Club 4+ division includes skill sets, including many elite and international crews. The Illini placed 38th out of 53 boats in regards to their raw time; however, due to a penalty contracted when the crew took a corner too aggressively, the team was knocked down 10 spots to 48th. 

Head coach Bill Grier was impressed by the younger crew’s performance at the race, especially at how well they handled the rough conditions and the big stage.

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The Men’s Collegiate 4+ division crew did not race as well as Grier would have hoped, but they still pulled off a top-20 finish placing 14th out of 46 teams. The boat’s final time was 18:04,  fast enough to secure a spot for the Illini in next year’s race. 

Because of the large scale of the race, boats are entered through a lottery system, so participation is not guaranteed; however, if a crew finishes within 5 percent of the winning time, the crew is guaranteed a spot in the next year’s race.

“This crew has a lot of promise looking at the rest of the year,” Grier said. “As soon as they polish up some of their techniques.”

One of the competitors for the Illini at the Head of Charles was fellow Big Ten team Michigan. Illinois finished just behind Michigan (18:03) in the Men’s Collegiate 4+ division, a promising sign for the season for Grier and his team. The Wolverines are known as a powerhouse in Big Ten rowing.

Next weekend, the Illini travel to Chicago to compete against DePaul in the Race4Row Chicago Boat Race

Athletes that participate in this race raise money for Recover on Water, a non-profit group in Chicago that uses rowing as a support group for breast cancer survivors. This a race that Illinois has participated in over the past couple of years and Grier said his team is excited to be apart of again this year.

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