Date Posted:07/09/2003,  8:00AM

Bowdoin Shines In International Competition

by Gil Birney, Bowdoin Rowing Coach

Bowdoin?s Rowing Club recently returned from international competition at the Henley Royal Regatta and the Henley Women?s Regatta with the glow of success all about them.

The women competed over the three-day Henley Women?s Regatta, June 20-22 in the College Coxed Four Event. Racing on the Thames is a single elimination knock out style event. Two boats race the course: one advances, one is through. With a bye in Friday?s racing Bowdoin began Saturday morning with a victory over Southampton University and then defeated Bath University in round 3 to advance to the semi-final on Sunday morning. In the semi, Oxford Brookes University beat Bowdoin to advance to the final against University of Bristol, whom OB defeated handily. After the racing, the Oxford Brookes coxswain commented, ?We really saw the semi as the final; we had defeated Bristol earlier in the season and knew we could get them again. Bowdoin gave us the best of the regatta.? Coxed by Meredith Harris and stroked by Kate Chandler, the crew also included Jess Reuben, Jackie Templeton, and Eliza Lende at the bow. After winning the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadephia against the best national crews, these five made it clear that Bowdoin can also compete with the best Britain has to offer.

Bowdoin?s men were just as competitive. While the women were racing in Henley, the men competed in the Marlow International Regatta at Dorney Lake in Eton. Dorney Lake is a seven-lane course with racing side by side in heats to advance to the finals. Rowing in the pre-elite event, Bowdoin?s A Boat was driven by Ben Needham and stroked Tom Ricciardi with Tyler Lange, Gordon Clark, and Tom Scifres completing the crew. These five won the morning heat to advance directly to the final, where the finished second behind Goldie Boat Club, aka Cambridge University, by 2 seconds. Bowdoin?s B Boat was coxed Juleah Swanson who drove Pat Welsh, stroke, Colin Drake, Chad Pelton and Keely Boyer. This crew made the semi in the Senior 2 event, but just missed going to the final. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was the performance by Bowdon?s pair, Andy Fischer and John Haines, which earned its way into the Elite final and finished 6th.

Returning to Henley, seventy crews entered for the 32 slots in The Britannia Challenge Cup. The Stewards of the Regatta pre-qualified 17 crews, including the Bowdoin A Boat, and the remaining 53 entries had to race a qualifying time trial on Friday, June 27 for the 15 slots left in the Britannia. Our B Boat survived the cut, so at The Draw for racing brackets on Saturday, Bowdoin had two crews in the event. For The A Boat?s performance at Marlow, the Stewards awarded Bowdoin?s first boat the distinction of being named one of eight Select Crews, along with Goldie, the University of London, and the University of Washington among the others.

On the Tuesday prior to the Regatta, Jesus College of Cambridge University traditionally sponsors a race for the Spare Men?s Pair. John Haines and Andy Fischer again distinguished themselves by finishing second by less than a length in a hard fought final with Princeton, as Rutgers, Harvard, and others failed to advance.

When the Henley Royal Regatta finally began racing on Wednesday, July 2, the two Bowdoin Fours included 4 seniors who had worked for three years to earn the privilege of sitting on the starting line at Temple Island. Gordon Clark was in Bowdoin?s first appearance at Henley as a first year student in the 2000 boat; Ty Lange and Pat Welsh had finished second to Brown in the Jesus Cup race in 2000 as first years; Tom Scifres shared their dream of returning to Henley to race with the best.

And race they did! The B Boat raced early on Wednesday and was defeated by Mortlake. This Bowdoin Crew had its best race ever, but was just out muscled by the bigger British crew. The A Boat justified the Stewards? Selection by stunning Isis Boat Club (Oxford University) on Wednesday and powering through Durham University on Thursday. The luck of The Draw put us against Goldie on Friday, who beat Bowdoin by a length and then went on to defeat the University of London by a length in the final.

At the Henley Women?s Regatta and Marlow International Regatta, in the Jesus Cup and Henley Royal Regatta, Bowdoin?s men and women rowers shone with inspired racing, and won the respect of far bigger crews and programs. From the quiet New Meadows River to the fabled River Thames, Bowdoin crews showed we could race with the best.