The Head of the Charles Regatta returned after two years. St. Andrew's graduates represented and found success on the water all weekend.
Those in the rowing community know the Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR) is one the largest rowing events in the world. More than 600 rowing clubs and 11,000 athletes—Olympians, high school rows, masters up to 87 years old, and everyone in between—compete each year at this two-day regatta in Cambridge, MA, which features 65 events. The Head of the Charles returned to Cambridge this October for the first time in two years, the regatta having been cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 safety concerns.
Over the years St. Andrew’s has been well represented at the Head of the Charles, and this year’s regatta was no exception. Many recent St. Andrew’s graduates were competing for their respective universities and had a lot of success on the water.
Last year’s Saints girls rowing captain, Amrit Chapman ’21, made the trip to the Head of the Charles by winning a seat in the Georgetown University varsity 4+, having dismantled all the competition in the varsity 4+ race at the Occoquan Chase in Virginia the week prior. Amrit and her crew brought home a medal, placing fifth in their race at HOCR. Two other former St. Andrew’s rowers battled it out in the Saturday afternoon women’s club eights race. Colgate senior Alex Hopkins ’18 stroked the Colgate first varsity 8+ and former SAS captain Christine Wu ’20 rowed in the 6-seat in a Dartmouth varsity 8+; Colgate and Darmouth placed 15th and 9th, respectively, in the 31-boat race.
The big highlight of the weekend was Margaret Murphy ’19 coxing the Princeton University’s women’s lightweight 8 to a gold medal. Winning gold is one thing—defeating the local Boston schools at HOCR is another, because of their familiarity with the four-mile course.
In the men’s collegiate eights event, Espen Wheeler ’19 sat in the stroke seat of the Bates College varsity 8+ and earned a medal for a fifth place finish out of 40 boats. Xander Atalay ’20 rowed in the five seat of the University of Virginia varsity 8+ and that boat finished 14th in the same event. Just two months into his first year at Trinity College, Matt Mitchell ’21 made the varsity 4+, and rowed in the two seat at HOCR, while Nick Wilmerding ’20 sat six seat in Yale’s V3 lightweight 8+.
Other Saints currently rowing in college (but who did not compete at this year’s HOCR) are Kate Butcher ’21 at University of Pennsylvania, Liz Hall ’21at Rollins College, Shap McCoy ’20 at Hamilton College, Claire Miller ’18 at Georgetown, Parkie Moseley ’20 at Wesleyan University, Alyse Ray ’20 at the US Naval Academy, and Tad Scheibe ’20 at Williams College.
While our recent graduates shined, SAS alumni also came out for the grand- and senior-master races. Steven Brownlee ’77, Peter Jacoby ’77, Michael Kadick ’75, and David Strong ’75 competed on behalf of the St. Andrew’s Alumni rowing club, as did Molly Higgins ’93, who coxed a 4+ that included George Shuster ’63 and his brothers.
Additionally, Bella Miller ’14 rowed in the two seat for Bates College in the alumnae eights race. The Bates boat placed 16th out of 47, and was the top DIII finisher in the race.
In other alumni rowing news, in late October, two full St. Andrew’s alumni eights competed in the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta in Philadelphia. SAS rowers included John Morton ’65, Jud Burke ’65, George Shuster ’63, Andy Parrish ’66, Billy Paul ’64, Ernie Cruikshank ’62, John Schoonover ’63, Mike Kadick ’75, Bob Dunn ’74, Tom Schreppler ’78, Richard Cookerly ’78, Pete Jacoby ’77, Steven Brownlee ’77, Dave Strong ’75, Gordon Brownlee ’75, and Molly Higgins ’93.
The “Noxontown Navy” has gathered together for regattas for 13 years running, and in recent months a number of the alumni rowers have faced some adversity. Realizing that this regatta might be the last time the two boats would row alongside each other in race, and with a starting position ahead of the 1960s boat, the 1970s alumni boat decided to “row slow” and waited for the 1960s boat to catch up. Choosing camaraderie over competition, the two boats rowed the rest of the 2+ mile course side-by-side.
“At the point when my leg drive was becoming rubbery enough to threaten this rower's resolve,” a member of the 1960s boat shared via email to the Nox Navy a few days after the race, “I glanced over to see you all and in that moment was able to muster a second wind that lasted through the remainder of the race. Your nobility epitomizes what it is to be an oarsperson and a St. Andrean. Experiencing that moment with you will ever be the high point of my rowing career. Thank you.”
A member of the 1970s crew wrote in response: “It was an amazing day shared, a privilege to bear witness... and to be associated with both crews. SAS is an everlasting gift to all of us.”