It’s the Great Eight – Yet Again
By Sophie Cannon – Posted on October 22, 2017
By a comfortable margin of 12 seconds, the Great Eight scullers, rowing for Sudbury Boat Club out of Canada, once again bested the college and national team crews, and took home a win in the Women’s Championship Eight race on the final day of the 2017 Head of the Charles Regatta. Their winning time was 14:48; the U.S. Rowing Training Center in Princeton boat was second. The University of Washington women took third, winning the collegiate trophy is a dramatic improvement over their 2016 finish.
Comprised of Olympians from the London and Rio games, the nine women of the Great Eight took home another trophy to add to their ever-growing collection.
More than just a win for the team, captain Carling Zeeman views the Charles as an opportunity for camaraderie and personal growth.
“I think the race is really important for us,” Zeeman said. “It is the only time we can all row in a crew boat, let alone with these competitors, so it is pretty special that we are able to do this. It gives everyone a chance to show off a little bit.
“Our plan was just to keep it smooth,” Zeeman said. “We had a call that was simply,‘Row like scullers!’ and I think that was good for us. It kept it simple, we all know how to scull!”
Although in the end they finished strong, earlier in the weekend the team suffered a bout of illness, causing team member Magdalena Lobnig to have to sit out for this final race.
“Unfortunately Magdalena couldn’t row, and a bunch of girls were sick yesterday, but they really came to,” said Gregg Stone, a Head of the Charles champion himself, who is serving as the team’s coach this week. “The name of the game was to get a long stroke and push where they could and they kept pushing their way past the US boat. It all worked out in the end.”
Stone chalked up his team’s win to the athletes and not his coaching, and said it was an honor to be with the best in the world.
“As a group of scullers, I only helped out,” Stone said with a smile. “I am not like a normal coach and since they are all so skilled and dedicated, it doesn’t take a lot of help.” Stone’s coaching was helped immeasurably when his daughter Gevvie, who yesterday won her eighth Head of the Charles singles, jumped into the boat as a fill in for Lobnig.
For the college crews, the chance to test themselves against crews like the Great Eight and the national team gives an added energy to the experience of the Head of the Charles.
“Being in the same [race] as them and rowing against them is such an inspiration for us,” said Yale rower Amy Warner, whose crew finished seventh in the race. “It’s nice also not always having the same competition in the collegiate level. Being able to row so close to them and next to the Great Eight was what we needed to keep our energy up.”
This special aspect of the regatta was also noted by Stone, recognizing just how much it means for the rowers, the community and even the rower’s biggest fans: mom and dad.
“This regatta is fabulous because you have the best athletes in the world and people who are just beginning and everything in between,” Stone said. “I was with the mother of one of the Yale rowers and she was so excited that Yale could come out and try to push the best scullers.”