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Bow Number 48

Kate Haslett ’13 was nervous as she looked out across the bow of her rowing shell to see hundreds of boats lined up on the Charles River, all waiting for the start of the Head of the Charles Regatta.

But her nervousness quickly faded once she and the other four Brooks girls in the boat rowed away from the dock.

The Brooks contingent was rowing among 85 other teams in the Youth Fours Women competition of the Head of the Charles, the world’s largest rowing event, held over two days on the Charles River in Boston. The lineup included Caroline Trustey ’13 (cox), Haslett (stroke), Savannah Stockly ’13 (3 seat), Madison Smith ’13 (2 seat) and Suki Smith ’13 (bow).

The Brooks rowers finished in just over 22 minutes, officially, but the girls say the best aspect of the day was simply being there, rather than trying to beat other teams.

“It was absolutely awesome! I have never rowed in something so big or so well-known as the Head of the Charles before,” said Kate. “It is humbling to know that there were close to 4,000 other rowers who participated.”

She said seeing the crowds and all those other rowers was a bit intimidating at first. “It is a very different feeling rowing on the Head of the Charles with hundreds of boats on the water at once, compared to rowing on Lake Cochichewick,” Kate said.

But her fears were calmed after she saw Brooks faculty and students cheering on the Brooks boat. “The best part of the regatta was that from start to finish there was always someone cheering for you. The race flew by so quickly and before I knew it I was back on the dock. The Brooks fans were amazing.”

The girls only had the opportunity practice once here on campus before the big race, but as Madison notes, the race went very well despite the limited practice time.

She said she was “just plain excited” driving to Boston with her team and coach Becca Smith ’05, but that once she saw the Charles River, she became extremely nervous.

“As we started getting ourselves ready and started to take the boat to the water, that's when I was the most nervous. When we were rowing down to the starting line, all of the excitement came back to me,” Madison said.

And just like any of the regular-season crew races, says Madison, she was focused on the task at hand.

“I felt determined to do well. Although my thoughts were mostly about following [stroke] Kate and getting my blade in the water at the same time as her, I was also thinking about how amazing the Head of the Charles was,” said Madison. “I had never been to the event before, but rowing in it was probably one of the coolest things I have done. When we finished the race, despite my exhaustion, I just wanted to do it all again!”

Coach Smith said it has been a numbers of years since there were Brooks girls in the regatta, so the team was “thrilled to have the opportunity to get the blades wet.”

“We had a wonderful day on the Charles. With only one Sunday morning row — in 40-degree rainy weather — in preparation, the girls hit the course poised to have some fun in the race. They were excited by the prospect of a 5K row together on a beautiful fall morning,” said Smith.

Brooks alumni and parents were also scattered throughout the crowd to cheer on the Brooks rowers. The alumni in attendance represented a broad range of class years — from Lexi Caffrey ’06 to Leonard Richard ’65.

Director of Alumni Programs Emily French ’03 said the Head of the Charles is always a place where alumni come to relive their Brooks crew experiences.

“So many graduates who went on to row in college and beyond started their rowing careers at Brooks. The Head of the Charles is a great place to see the tradition continue, with alumni rowing for their NCAA teams, and then of course this year, our current students taking part in the race, too,” French said.

Regatta Facts and Figures
• Number of boats on the Charles River for the races: 2,031
• Number of rowers and coxswains in the Women’s Youth Fours category: 425, including five from Brooks School
• Fastest time the race was completed in the Women’s Youth Fours category: 19:24.658
• Proof that rowing can be a lifelong sport: At 85 years old, Mary Elizabeth Stone, from the Berkeley (California) Paddling and Rowing Club, was the oldest female rower at the Head of the Charles this year. She finished the race in just over 37 minutes.