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UMass competes in Foot of the Charles Regatta on Saturday

The Massachusetts rowing team will return to Boston for the Foot of the Charles Regatta on Saturday as its fall season comes to a close. This time, UMass won’t be competing against the elite rowers in the world.

The Minutewomen will feature their strongest Freshmen 8 along with their Varsity 4 on a course very similar to the one they rowed in mid-October for the Head of the Charles, when they went head-to-head against Olympic national teams. The length of this race is very similar to the Head of the Charles, if not a little shorter. The Foot of the Charles, which solely features collegiate rowers, will begin at MIT’s boathouse and end just past the boathouse of Harvard.

Much like last weekend’s race at Dartmouth, this is primarily a novice race. UMass assistant coach Alex Binkowski, who handles the novice squad, hopes to have three Novice 8 boats compete in the Charles, if a recent flu outbreak doesn’t decrease that number to two. Yet regardless of how many boats make it onto the water, the Minutewomen are primed and ready for their last race of the season.

“We’re as prepared as we’re going to be,” Binkowski said. “Each boat will have their own game plan. The first boat is going to be aggressive and attack. The pressure is not on the second and third 8’s as much. Most of the novice year is about experience but I’ll look at the first 8’s results, comparing them with our standard rivals.”

As for the two Varsity 4 crews, UMass coach Jim Dietz says that his focus is a little different for this race.

“It’s just an end of the season race, low key,” Dietz said. “Some of the [rowers] are really competitive and want to get out there every week.”

The varsity participants for this race have for the most part volunteered to travel to Boston. They are there to get additional work in, as well as, compete.

UMass will not send its best sets of four, along with its usual lineup, but will instead incorporate the buddy-boats system, where the women pick their own groups to row together.

Three of the Minutewomen won’t travel with the team, but will instead participate in an identification camp in Princeton, N.J. Elizabeth Euiler, Chelsea Wakeham and Emily Boucher will race in a 4.5k singles race as they each pursue a spot on the U.S. national team.

“They’re hoping to perform as best they can,” Binkowski said. “It’s an opportunity for them to see how they stack up against the best in the country.”

The Minutewomen may carry extra motivation this weekend to represent their coaches well. Dietz will be inducted into the National Rowing Hall Of Fame, along with 17 other inductees, according to a recent announcement. Having coached the Minutewomen for 13 years, as well as being the only rowing coach in school history, Dietz has 11 Atlantic 10 Championships under his belt. He is also a member of seven World Championship teams.

After this weekend’s events, the Minutewomen will begin a new training program for the spring season in hopes of bringing another conference championship back to UMass.

Pete Vasquez can be reached at

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