Rocking the Head of the Charles Regatta: Rockford Women place in the top 20 at national competition

Rockford women head toward the finish line

By Mary Clinthorne


For the second year in a row Rockford Crew sent a small group of rowers to the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, October 20-21. “This regatta is known by everyone in this sport for its level of competition and difficult course. Nothing less than excellence is required throughout the race in order to have a chance,” explained Head Coach Tim Vallier. The race course is three miles of upstream rowing, with numerous bends in the river and seven bridges to navigate.

Excellence is exactly what the Rockford Women’s 4+ brought to their Youth (High School) race. A relatively young group (mostly sophomores), the women gave every ounce of power and control to their race, finishing 16th out of 85 boats against some of the best programs in the country. Allyson Andrews, Sabrina VanFossen, Victoria Kacsits, MaKayla Plekes, and coxswain Brianna VanderBerg finished the race in 20:14.475 minutes, less than one minute behind first place!

Also competing this year was Rockford Senior Andrew Carley, racing in the Club Singles Men’s category. In this open age group, made up of some high school rowers but also many individuals with years of experience beyond high school, Carley finished with a rather impressive time for his age, completing the race in 22:49.863.

Rockford prepared for this race throughout the summer and early autumn. According to Coach Vallier, “Training and technical development were only a fraction of what helped these athletes rank as they did. The combination of sheer will and the heart to win by all of these athletes allowed them to perform above expected speeds, establishing new personal records.”

The two-day Head of the Charles Regatta attracts more than 9000 competitors each year and more than 300,000 spectators. Twenty-eight countries were represented in this year’s event, with 2031 boats racing. Nine hundred entries (including the Rockford Men’s 4+) were turned away in a random draw due to race capacity limits. Because the Rockford women finished in the top 50 percent in their race, they will get a guaranteed entry in next year’s Head of the Charles Regatta.


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