Crew - Boys' Varsity
Smith Cup
Lake Waramaug - New Preston, CT
Lake Waramaug - New Preston, CT

@ Lake Waramaug in New Preston, CT

Win 12-2
On Wednesday, May 17, the boys crew team traveled with the girls team back up to Lake Waramaug for the Smith Cup race (boys) and the Alumni Cup races (girls). After competing the previous weekend with temperatures in the 50s, the boys put their Ray-Bans on for an early taste of summer, cavorting in temperatures in the mid 80s. A breeze from the east picked up as the race schedule unfolded, and made for some tricky rowing between 250 and 750 meters into the course, but the last half of each race saw relatively calm and even racing conditions for all crews.

The 5th boat was the first to race for the boys, and had a last-minute substitution, with Teddy Verheggen filling in admirably for an ailing Stone Fenton. With Quincy Morgan at the helm, the lineup included Akseli Latvio (stroke), Sean Dunbar (3), Teddy (2) and Nicholas Carolan (bow). Having had no practice time together except for that which they could squeeze in prior to the start of the race, our boys were at a disadvantage. Crosswinds at the start caused some problems aligning the two shells, and then once off the line, Berkshire and Taft locked oars and had to “weigh enough.” The race was restarted at the 100-meter mark, and Berkshire’s lads jumped out to a small lead. Our boys did a fine job, however, of coming together as a unit and maintaining their position once they’d passed through the Straits of Charybdis and could row in calmer waters. While they ended up five seconds down to Berkshire, the Rhinos in the fifth boat acquitted themselves with valor by subduing crews from South Kent and Canterbury.

The 6th boat raced at the very end of the schedule. Ben Coleman took the coxswain seat to lead his boys into the fray: Alex Robertson in the stroke seat, Christopher Pellegrini in three-seat, Ranon Larpcharern in two-seat, and Daniel Chavez-Golden taking over in bow. The Rhinos enjoyed the advantage of Lane 1, closest to the usual crowd of Taft faithful on shore, and had the pleasure of coasting to an impressively large victory, besting South Kent by 40 seconds and Canterbury by a minute and a half. This boat as well as the fifth boat have a fine chance to fare well a week from today at the same venue, competing in the Lower Boats Regatta on May 24.

Taft’s fourth-varsity boat once again featured a lineup of CJ D’Virgilio at stroke, Henry Bartol (3), Nick Olsen (2), and Otto Piasecki (bow), with Daisy Cook at coxswain. Squaring off against one lone foe – a crew from Berkshire – the 4V was set to make up for an unhappy performance the previous Saturday. Down early in the race again, the Rhinos in fourth boat clenched their teeth and set about reversing their fortunes by applying some old-fashioned grit to the challenge. Little by little, they accomplished their goal, overtaking Berkshire by the mid-way point of the race and then walking out to an impressive seven-second margin of victory by the time they’d finished rowing the second half of the race.

Next into the fray, led by the indomitable Aditya “The Pride of Naperville” Balsekar, was the third-varsity crew, with Hudson “Sinatra” Groner (s), Ali Sinan “Ancient Mariner” Kaya (3), Mac “Shades” Nolan (2), and Ben “New Scotland” Gallant (b). With the officials behind schedule and rushing to catch up, the 3V – who had gone onto the water with the assumption that races would continue to run behind schedule – found themselves being rushed to the starting line after a mere ten minutes of warm-up. Despite the fact that they had been unable to practice any starting sequences ahead of time, the Rhinos of 3V got off the line punctually and with commendable vigor. As did many crews on this day, the 3V ran into some strong crosswinds between the 250-meter mark and the halfway point of the course, and the rowing became decidedly sloppy. Once they passed into the second half of the course, a much more protected stretch of water, the boys in red were able to find their rhythm, make a move, and break away from a pesky Berkshire boat. Demonstrating the power that has become their signature, the Rhinos stomped on to a 15-second victory over the Bears.

The second varsity crew was captained by Zoe “Effy” Eberstadt-Beattie and again included Nick “O Time” Mortimer (s), Jason “Camouflage” Bab (3), Ben “Coxy” Roberts (2), and Jack “Hawai’i” Ewing (b), with a special alumni guest appearance on the shoreline by none other than former boatmate to many 2V rowers, Michael “Dirty Mike” Molder, back from his first year at Georgia Tech. Our boys in 2V got off to a solid but unspectacular start, putting themselves in the mix with Berkshire and Gunnery for the first 100 meters before starting their gradual, inexorable move away from their competitors. By the 250-meter mark, the 2V had earned a two-seat lead over Berkshire. Despite having to navigate the unpredictable winds of the Waramaug Triangle for the next 500 meters of the race, Zoe and the boys channeled the ethos evinced by Dirty Mike for four years as a Taft rower, attacking every stroke as though it was the difference between eternal glory and ever-lasting damnation. Stroke by stroke the Rhinos lengthened their lead – up to a full boat-length at 750 meters, to two seats of open water by 1000 meters, to a length of open water by the call for the sprint – finally to cross the finish line with a seven-second margin of victory over a valiant but on this day outmatched crew from Western Massachusetts.

The boys in the first varsity boat were finally back in their regular configuration – a rig that they had rowed in only once over the previous ten days. After a long wait caused by officiating delays, coxswain Taro Sochi escorted his lineup of Ben Moffa (s), Thomas Muller (3), Jay Lavallée (2), and Ben Olsen (bow) out onto the waters of Waramaug for an extended warm-up before the showcase contest of the boys’ day. Swirling winds at the start pushed many of the crews off their starting spots – Gunnery was shoved into Taft’s lane, while Taft began the race having to slap aside a line of buoys in order to get to open water. Without the benefit of a clean start, the boys in 1V were unable to execute the first twenty-five strokes of the race as they are wont to – a significant disadvantage given the fact that Berkshire’s 1V is a very fine group of athletes who have gelled into a very fast crew. Indeed, Berkshire went off the line perfectly, and worked out to a three-seat lead by the 250 meter mark. Seemingly knocked out of sync from the very first strokes, the Rhinos never managed to find their rhythm in the race, and were thus never able to challenge the boys in green, who rowed an excellent piece to finish in the very fast time of 5:01. The Rhinos did have the satisfaction of beating rival Gunnery by five seconds, however, demonstrating that the .8 second loss on the previousSaturday was a reflection of stop-gap lineup changes rather than of the true speed of their boat. In the end, Taft’s 1V handed over custodianship of the Smith Cup for a year to a worthy and affable bunch from Berkshire, looking forward to seeing them one more time this season at the New England championship regatta on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, MA on May 27.

Full results are available on