Collision costs NBRC crew at Head of the Charles Regatta

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North Bay Rowing Club sent five women to the East Coast last weekend to compete at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston. The race is the largest two-day regatta in the world, attracting teams from across the globe to compete on the challenging three-mile course.

“It’s the biggest race we have ever attended.” said NBRC coach Will Whalen, “In our race alone, there were 85 entries from across the United States, Canada and England.”

Crowds were estimated to be close to 200,000 for each of the two days of racing.

The NBRC Four with Coxswain (Shannon Gallup, Jordyn Brounstein, Makenna Bortells, Natasha Kinmont and Sophia Falls) competed in the Youth Fours event on Sunday afternoon. The race is a time trial format in which boats cross the starting line every 10 seconds and race for fastest time down to the finish.

“We drew the 74th starting position so we knew it was going to be quite a bit of driving to get down the course,” said Whalen. “There were boats in front of us that I knew we would pass, and there were boats behind us that were very fast.”

At the first time check, about a mile into the course, North Bay posted the 17th fastest time of the day. By the second time check. it had lost a little ground, but maintained a top 30 position.

“We started strong and maintained that strength and power throughout the race,” said Brounstein.”

By the third time check, the crew had moved back up to 22nd place.

Disaster struck as two boats collided directly in front of the North Bay squad with only a half mile to go.

“Sophia was nailing the course. She was on the inside of the turn, and then one of the two boats she was passing just took a hard left into the other shell,” Whalen explained.

The collision sent the two boats to the inside and North Bay joined the collision. There was no damage to the boats or rowers, and after about 30 seconds of untangling, the race continued. The team crossed the finish line 32nd out of 85 despite the crash, but was assessed a safety penalty for being involved, which put them back into a final ranking of 64th.

“The ruling was that we could have avoided the collision. While I agree that there was an option to go wide and we accept the referee’s decision, I do not fault our coxswain at all for taking the inside line. There was a bridge out wide and she still had clear water to the inside. The two boats drifted inside and cut off the option,” Whalen said.

“We’re all really happy with how the weekend went.  None of us could have guessed that we would be caught behind a collision so I’m proud that my teammates are able to look beyond that and see how we performed as a whole.” said Kinmont.

North Bay is back in action this weekend at the Head of the American Regatta in Rancho Cordova.  Eleven boats will be competing on the 5000-meter course and it will be the first race for this year’s Novice team. 

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