Clean Sweep for Vesper Boat Club at Club National Championships
BY GENEVIEVE CARRILLO • JULY 16, 2017
BETHEL, Ohio — The 2017 USRowing Club National Championships came to a close on Sunday, July 16, as Vesper Boat Club hoisted the Colgan Cup, claiming the overall team points title for the sixth-consecutive year.
“It means a huge amount to Vesper,” said coach and 2008 U.S. Olympian Lindsay Meyer. “The Colgan family has a longstanding history with Vesper and it just means the world to us to have the cup come back to Philadelphia another year.”
Balancing coaching and rowing, Meyer was able to both lead her crew to victory and contribute to it with a silver medal finish in the women’s elite/senior double sculls. According to Meyer, Vesper’s success on the water can be attributed to their cohesion off the water.
“Vesper is everyone working together as a team. We had everyone from junior, under 23 and senior athletes – both lightweights and open weights – getting oars and helping out around the course all weekend,” said Meyer.
The Sulger-Barnes Men’s All-Points Award was determined by one final race: the men’s elite/senior lightweight eight. With Vesper and New York Athletic Club tied for points, the men from Philadelphia claimed victory on the water, winning the title, with a time of 5:54.851 over NYAC’s 5:59.112.
“We knew going into it that the points were close, but we just went out there and did what we’ve been doing the entire week,” said lightweight rower Joseph Martinez. “We went out feeling loose and when we got to the start we cranked on it and took the lead from there.”
Despite having six fewer men’s entries than NYAC, the men in maroon and white dominated the podium, claiming eight gold medals while earning 247 points total.
When he is not at Vesper, Martinez rows for the University of Rhode Island’s collegiate club program, additionally valuing the competitive edge that Vesper offers for the summer racing season.
“When you want to be the best, you have to compete with the best and eventually you will be the best,” said Martinez.
To complete a sweep of victories, the women of Vesper Boat Club earned the Marion D. Ventura Women’s All-Points Award with 180 points and eight gold medals.
With over twice the points as runner-up, Oklahoma City High-Performance Center, Vesper Boat Club’s women medaled in 11 of their 13 races entered.
“It was rough missing the [women’s] title last year,” said coxswain Colleen Gillis. “Having it back and having a team sweep this year is really something special and I’m glad to be a part of the tradition for the second year in a row”
Before any medals were awarded, the women of the elite/senior women’s single took to the course early Sunday morning. With six highly-competitive women, including four Olympians, boats sped down the course, in hopes of becoming the winner of the first of three Lotman Challenge events.
Off of the start, the early leader was Cleveland, Ohio native and 2016 Olympian in the women’s pair, Felice Mueller, who represented The Foundry.
Fresh off nearly making the podium at the 2017 World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland, Mueller stayed ahead of the pack today to claim the gold in a time of 7:30.981.
“I think this race today showed that we have some really talented scullers in the United States,” said Mueller. “I think any support and any incentive you can give [the scullers] to compete, get out there and get faster is really powerful.”
With her first place finish, Mueller has secured a top position for the 2017 Head of the Charles Regatta. The race will be her first-ever head race in a single.
The podium for the men’s elite/senior double sculls was covered in blue and gold as Penn AC Rowing Association earned the top three places in the event.
Chris Shirley and James Garay won with a time of 6:28.213, followed closely by teammates Nathan Lado andCharles Anderson who crossed the line in 6:30.096. The bronze medal position was earned by the crew of Nicholas Goode and David Judah in a time of 6:36.151, ten seconds over fourth place.
With Penn AC sending seven athletes to Switzerland for World Rowing Cup III, the remainder of the program stepped up and brought high-level competition.
“It really speaks to the depth of our program,” said James Garay. “For the top-end speed to be in Europe, and for us to be placing on top of events speaks volumes to what it’s happening at Penn AC and it’s a good indicator of what’s to come for men’s sculling in America.”
After racing was over, rising senior athletes crowded into the Matt Maupin Memorial Pavilion to discuss their future rowing plans with 75 universities and over 110 coaches at the 14th-Annual College Fair.
“This is a really beneficial way to recruit,” said Assistant Coach for Cornell University Heavyweight Men David Burke. “It’s great to meet the athletes on an individual basis after they’re done racing. To talk to them about our university, but also to learn more about them; you can’t get that over the phone or through email. We look forward to it every year.”