The sun sets over Lake Onota, as seen from the Shaw Boathouse

Unfortunately, life has kept me away from EphBlog of late — but one of the places I’ve been definitely had an Eph flavor to it. Thanks to Williams’s success in last year’s inaugural year of the “Alumni Eight” event, this year’s Head of the Charles Regatta featured a possibly record-setting number of Eph alumni.

The Head of the Charles, “the world’s largest two day rowing event,” has long been the stage for great Eph performances, from the back-to-back wins for Williams women’s fours in 1990 and 1991 to the  course record time posted by the 1997 men’s varsity to the twin wins by the men’s and women’s crews in 2008.

This tradition of success, along with the gorgeous autumn setting in Boston and Cambridge and the vast array of categories of races has helped create a loyal cadre of rowing alumni who return to don the colors of the Purple Valley every fall.

This year, the alumni flotilla included three entries in the Men’s Alumni Eight race:

– Finishing 12th, the 2008 men’s alumni,  rowing as North Adams Rowing Club. North Adams started very quickly, posting the 5th fastest time through the first quarter of the course.

– Finishing 25th, the 1989 men’s alumni, rowing as Williams College Alumni Rowing Association.

– Finishing 31st, the 1981 men’s alumni, rowing as Purple Reign Rowing Club. With starting positions determined in part on last year’s finishes, the 1989 and 1981 crews started consecutively.

The top-finishing alumni crew of the day, however, was Williams’s entry in the Women’s Alumni Eight, rowing as the Williams Women’s Alumnae Rowing Association and composed of an array of graduates from 2006 through 2010, who finished 9th.

Also making the race was a boat of Williams alumni from the late 90s and early 00s, with reinforcements provided from the University of Delaware, thanks to two-time Head of the Charles champion John L. Williams ’98 (who coaches at UD and organized this squad). Rowing as Williams College Boat Club, they finished 40th.

Two other Eph alumni turned in stellar performances. John Kennel ’91, who captained but did not row in the ’89 men’s entry, finished 4th in the Master’s Eight event with the Marin Rowing Association. And Kate Iverson ’90 coxed the Boulder Community Rowing entry in the Women’s Senior Master’s Four event to a second-place finish.

As usual, the regatta also provided an excuse for social gatherings of alumni and their families. In addition, the 1989 men arrived several days early to Williamstown and used those days to practice together and with the current crop of Williams athletes out on Pittsfield’s Lake Onota. I joined the ’89 guys for their final Onota practice on a stormy Thursday — a beautiful Purple Valley day featuring the sunset pictured above.

Photo galleries of the alumni competing, from commercial photographer Sportgraphics:

North Adams Rowing Club

Williams College Alumni Rowing Association

 Purple Reign Rowing Club

Williams Women’s Alumnae Rowing Association

Williams College Boat Club


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