The Nassau Rowing Club (NRC) has fielded a men’s fours and a youth doubles teams to compete at the popular Head of the Charles Regatta, that is set to get underway today on the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Competition gets underway today and wraps up on Sunday. The NRC men’s fours team will be in action tomorrow at 12.08 p.m. The women’s youth doubles team will see action on Sunday at 11.03 a.m.
In the women’s youth doubles, sisters Sascha and Jessica Proffitt will team up. On the men’s side, club president Kyle Chea, Lex Fountain, Brandon Lam, Lucas Angles and Tyler Krasusky will compete. KariAnne Kulig is the coach.
This is the first major regatta that the NRC will be competing in since October 2019. For Chea, this regatta is important for the club.
“This is key for meeting collegiate coaches, networking with other clubs to build partnerships, and showcasing the progress of high-level Bahamian rowing,” Chea said.
Overall, there will be 2,239 crews from 619 different clubs from 15 countries competing. It is less than usual since crews from places like New Zealand and Australia will not make the trip because of COVID-19 protocols and restrictions. The men’s fours event has 45 crews competing.
Kulig has been working mainly with the young ladies at Lake Cunningham. The coach is familiar with the 4.7 kilometers (2.92 miles) course, having called it home from 2007-2017. She has coached and rowed on the Charles River in Cambridge.
Kulig expects both the men and ladies to perform well this weekend.
“We have been blessed with perfect water in Nassau recently,” Kulig said. “The girls were able to establish a strong aerobic base while sharpening their technique. Being siblings, Sascha and Jessica have been rowing together in a pod since COVID began and match up well.
“The Head of the Charles is a technically challenging course, traversing under seven bridges and multiple turns. We practiced steering under pressure and memorized the best line to take for the race. Each segment of the course has its own challenges, but we are prepared for all of the variables that could occur.”
For Chea, he knows that he and his crew will have a tough time since it’s the crew’s first time racing together. He is looking forward to competing again, for the first time since 2019.
“We expect to go out and have a good race. It will be the first time this crew lineup is racing together, so we hope to synchronize technique and flow on Friday (today) before adding power at race pace on Saturday. We’ll be happy with a middle-of-the-pack result, as we know many other crews have the advantage of training together longer. Synchronization of the crew – known as ‘swing’ – comes together over time, so we are definitely at a disadvantage. That said, it will be fun to get on the water and race with everyone after so long,” Chea said.
He and Fountain train together in New Providence but the others are U.S.-based members. The experienced rower competed in the Head of the Charles in 2016 when the NRC entered a team in the men’s eights.
The rowers traversed the course yesterday to get acclimated to it. Jessica is the youngest of the Proffitt sisters and spoke about the experience so far.
“So far being at this regatta has been an amazing experience,” she said. “I have already met some really cool people. The community here is amazing and while it is a bit nerve-wracking to compete in this regatta, I’m extremely excited at the same time. This weekend I anticipate a very challenging and long race, but also a fun one at the same time. It will definitely be an amazing opportunity. I think all of the training that we have done leading up to this will allow us to be successful in this regatta.”
Her older sister said that while being at Cambridge has been daunting, she is excited to gain the experience.
“The sheer number of teams is slightly daunting, and there’s lots of international competition, but it’s incredibly exciting and I’m excited to gain more experience with rowing internationally. I know that the race will be challenging, but it’s so amazing to be able to have this experience,” Sascha Proffitt said.
The 17-year-old added: “Jessie and I will be trying our hardest in this race and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out in a field of 54 international boats. We have been working hard to increase our stamina and improve our technique, so I’m hopeful that we will be successful.”
The sisters who have been rowing together at NRC for the past four years are grateful for Kulig’s training which included tips and advice on the course which helped them to feel more prepared for the regatta. They have zeroed in on their doubles practice over the past three months.
It has been tough on the club since the COVID-19 pandemic set in back in March 2020. As a club, they worked hard to adhere to the COVID-19 health and safety protocols mandated by the Competent Authority and have instituted their own policies.
“Sixty-six percent of our members have had at least one vaccine shot and 50 percent are fully vaccinated. We have required that all members be vaccinated by the end of 2021. This adherence to protocols has helped everyone be more respectful of our community and more appreciative of any training time on the water we can get,” Chea said.
Their Opportunities & Access Rowing Squad (OARS) Program where public school students row for free has grown.
Both of the events in which Bahamians will compete will be streamed on the Head of the Charles Regatta’s YouTube page.