For the last 46 years, the Charles River in Boston, Massachusetts has been home to the Head of the Charles Regatta, one of the largest rowing competitions in the world.
The two-day competition hosts some of the best crew teams from around the world, with more than 11,000 athletes.
This year, on Oct. 22, the Marin Rowing Association will send its top male and female athletes to Boston with hopes of first place finishes for both teams.
The boys’ varsity crew team has won the Head of the Charles competition six times in the last seven years.
The girls’ varsity team’s chances at winning this year also look positive after finishing second in 2015.
Aside from athletic ability, one of the main factors in the Marin Rowing Association’s success is often attributed to the organization’s strong sense of community.
While having a tough training routine and a strong mindset is important, athletes, coaches and parents agree that community is one of the most critical aspects of the team because it makes them perform better.
“If you’re in a boat with anyone, that guy will go as hard for you as you will for them,” said junior Max Igou. “You go hard, you try your best for someone else, not just for yourself, which is kind of unique to rowing.”
Varsity girls’ coach Sandy Armstrong said that Marin Rowing focuses on teaching its rowers how to effectively work as a team towards a common goal.
Rowing can teach teamwork better than most sports because it is a selfless sport where the team is more important than the individual, according to Armstrong.
According to Igou, there are several misconceptions about the sport, including the belief that rowers are egotistical.
“[The belief] stems from us having to be confident in our sport. Confidence is just part of our personality as rowers. If we don’t have confidence then we’re not going to get any better,” Igou said.
The Marin Rowing community is also strong among parents and former rowers.
“I think that they teach so many good skills that will prepare them for life. As a parent you want your kid to be prepared for life,” said Caren Horstmeyer, mother of junior rower Arend Horstmeyer. “[My son] really has embraced the hard work. He’s got into the system and he’s a full fledged crew guy now. I’m really proud of him for that.”
Colin Parker, a Redwood graduate who has continued his rowing career at Oregon State, remembers tight-knit relationships with his teammates.
“There were a lot of friendships made through [crew]. I think that helped because when everyone is on the same page and everybody feels the same way about each other, the boat moves a lot faster and it’s a lot more fun,” Parker said.
With the Head of Charles closely approaching, Marin Rowing has high hopes for victory in both boats due to the amount of time they spent together, their extensive practice time and their warm community.
“I think that if we do everything we can and we have the best race possible, then I think no matter the outcome, we’ll be satisfied,” junior Amelia Shunk said.
In regards to the boys’ varsity boat, the crew appears to be confident in their boat’s chances of winning.
Junior Calvin Norstad is anticipating a close race with good competition from teams such as Marin Rowing’s longtime rival Oakland Strokes, but he believes Marin will emerge victorious.