Vanderbilt Rowing Club women’s team places second in women’s collegiate fours at world’s biggest regatta

The women’s team brought home a silver medal at the Head of the Charles Regatta on Oct. 23.

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Dillen Cameron

Vanderbilt Women’s Club Rowing after their second place win at Head of the Charles, as photographed on Oct. 23, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Dillen Cameron)

David Hernandez, Staff Writer

The Vanderbilt Rowing Club women’s team had the grand opportunity to compete in the Head of the Charles Regatta on Oct. 23 in Boston, Massachusetts. Hailed as the largest rowing competition worldwide, HOCR hosts national and international teams over a three-day span; nearly 11,000 rowers race in 72 different events on the Charles River. The Commodores were featured in the women’s collegiate fours, taking on a field of 34 other club and varsity teams from across the country. 

Racing against both the opposition and the clock within the competition’s time trial format, the Vanderbilt women put on a brilliant performance, finishing second overall with a time of 18 minutes, 47.361 seconds and earning a silver medal. Not only did they earn their first medal in the program’s history, but their performance qualifies the Commodores for this same event in 2023. 

As the crew powered through the 4,800-meter course, it was apparent that they were en route to a record result for the club team. Staggered time trial or not, the Vanderbilt boat still passed many other collegiate crews, eagerly pushing for the best time possible. Although they finished ten seconds behind the eventual winner, Lafayette College, every other crew remained ten seconds or more behind the Commodores. 

The Vanderbilt boat races down the Charles River, as photographed on Oct. 23, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Dillen Cameron)
The Vanderbilt boat races down the Charles River, as photographed on Oct. 23, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Dillen Cameron) (Dillen Cameron)

The boat was steered by coxswain and junior Dillen Cameron, and the rest of the boat’s crew was composed of junior and club Vice President Hannah Thomas, junior Julia Ayer, sophomore Amelia Simpson and first-year Naia Charland. This crew made a distinct two-minute improvement on the team’s result from 2021 when the women’s team placed 15th with a time of 20:33.920. Ayer, a member of last year’s crew, spoke highly of the team this year in a message to The Hustler. 

“I loved my boat last year, but I think that my boat this fall has definitely been more explicit and intentional about setting high standards for ourselves and holding each other to those,” Ayer said. “I think that this year we were able to shift our focus from just racing hard on the day of the regatta to using every practice leading up to the race to make the gains we needed. It’s been a very unified processeveryone was fully invested in the goal.” 

Vanderbilt rowers embrace after their second-place finish, as photographed on Oct. 23, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Dillen Cameron)
Vanderbilt rowers embrace after their second-place finish, as photographed on Oct. 23, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Dillen Cameron) (Dillen Cameron)

The youngest of the crew, Charland, shared similar sentiments regarding the team’s consistent commitment to improvement. 

“I think what we accomplished at HOCR is just the beginning,” Charland said. “We’ll use this race as a jumping-off point to see how much faster we can get as we head into our last two races of the fall season. I think across the whole team we’ll use it as motivation to put in the work and be greedy with the gains we want to make.” 

With Head of the Hooch in Chattanooga, Tennessee coming up on Nov. 5, the entire team will look to continue their success and replicate their great results from HOCR.