Poor weather and conditions on the Connecticut River were the culprits of a disappointing Saturday for the Massachusetts rowing team last weekend in the Pumpkin Head Regatta.
The race, which was viewed more as a small scrimmage, was still held on the waters of the Connecticut.
As head coach Jim Dietz explained, the conditions did not do the team any favors in trying to generate some positive results in their last race before the prestigious Head of the Charles.
“It ended up being a bust because the river came up to flooding at about 60,000 cubic feet per second, and they were dodging logs and whirlpools and everything else,” Dietz explained. “They rowed down the course, but you couldn’t call it much of a race.”
Dietz and the Minutewomen now will focus all of their attention on the biggest race of their fall season as they travel to Boston this weekend to compete in the Head of the Charles.
“It’s the biggest race of the fall, it’s the biggest race in North America,” Dietz said. “If it’s a sunny day, we’ll have a quarter million spectators there watching the race, five to six thousand athletes competing in the race, it’s bigger than the Boston Marathon now.”
As expected, UMass will bring its best boats to the Charles to compete with the best of the best across the country and even the world.
Junior Emily Boucher will compete in the Lightweight Single against a multitude of unfamiliar competitors, ranging from local rowing clubs to foreign clubs from Canada and Spain.
Additionally, the Minutewomen will enter in both the Champ 4 and Lightweight 8.
Seniors Sam Schnoerr and Ali DiMatteo will guide the Champ 4, while seniors Carly Payne, Liz Euiler, Chelsea Wakeham and Megan Donovan will lead the Lightweight 8.
Dietz is very confident in both boats and believes the senior leadership can steer UMass to an exceptional performance.
“I think the four has the possibility of getting up there in the top ten, and probably the Light 8 as well,” Dietz said. “The Light 8 is a little bit younger with a freshman and a bunch of sophomores, but there are three or four really strong seniors that can hold the crew together.”
As for the hindering weather conditions that has kept the team off the waters for practicing and racing for much of the season, the forecast calls for dry weather and a calm current, which should allow the Minutewomen to breath a sign of relief. As Dietz explained, that can only ignite confidence in the squad.
“I think once they get on the flat water of the Charles with no current, they’re going to feel extremely stable and that’s even going to add more to the confidence level,” Dietz said.
Still, with such a large and very competitive field, UMass might have to rely on a bit of luck in terms of its starting positions in each race for solid performances on top of its preparations for the big event.
“There’s a good bit of luck involved with doing well as well as all of the preparation,” Dietz explained. “You just hope to get enough preparation so that the luck falls more on your side.”
Stephen Hewitt can be reached at email@example.com.