Reflections on the 2016 Harlem River Classic

Reflections on the 2016 Harlem River Classic

by Henry Cashin, Row New York Young Executive Board Member

On Sunday, May 22nd, I had the pleasure of competing in the 4th annual Harlem River Classic, a Row New York fundraising regatta. Having not been in a boat for a couple years, I woke up with a few pre-race jitters, praying that I would not crab. I had volunteered to captain a boat (“Glory Days”) and set the lineup accordingly, placing myself at 2-seat so that no one could see if I managed to take a couple air strokes.  

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The annual Harlem River Classic raises money for Row New York’s free youth and adaptive programs.

When I got to the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse, my nerves increased. The color-coordinated boat shirts and hats made everything look extremely official. Three women’s boats competed. “Ports and Starbroads” (name inspiration: TV show “Broad City”) included mostly Columbia alumnae who rowed together in the 2015 HOCR along with a couple former Princeton Lightweights. “Rad to the Bone” consisted of several former Radcliffe rowers combined with a couple RNY Young Executive Board members. “Carnegie Lake Rowing Association” included members of the masters rowing club based out of Princeton, New Jersey. Every year, CLRA picks a charity to support and members “really liked the idea of NYC kids being able to access its waters for recreation and enjoyed being able to help that continue.”

Six men’s boats competed. The reigning 3-time champion “1829 Boat Club” (name inspiration: the first Oxford-Cambridge race was held in 1829) consisted of mostly former Oxford-Cambridge / national team rowers (read: way too many legitimate rowers in one boat for this event). “College Boat Club” (name inspiration: Penn has raced under “College Boat Club” since 1872) consisted of former Penn heavyweights spanning the last decade. “Glory Days” (name inspiration: Bruce Springsteen) consisted of former Princeton, Harvard, and George Washington heavyweights who like to relive the college years / 2k times when they were in better shape. “Gluteus Relaximus” included members of Row New York’s competitive Masters Team reminding everyone to relax their gluteal muscles. “H&B Boat Club” (name inspiration: not appropriate for the internet, sorry guys) consisted of several Young Executive Board members; however, they spiced things up a bit with a surf boat rower from Australia. “Fat Cat”, captained by RNY board Chairman David Huntington, consisted of a group of friends who have rowed many times together over the last 25 years.  However, with an average age of 50+, the members of “Fat Cat” insist that the HRC should have a Masters category!

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The racing was tight. I think I can speak for most that 500m seemed longer than it actually was. My strategic plan of sitting in the bow somewhat backed-fired as I ended up completely soaked and undoubtedly took a couple mouthfuls of Harlem River water. On the women’s side, “Ports and Starbroads” captured the gold, coming in 1:12.97. On the men’s side, “1829 Boat Club” won their 4th consecutive gold, coming in a blistering 1:00.19, although I can first-handedly say that they may have jumped the start a little bit (I guess “Ready!” is the new “Row!” – but no hard feelings, right?).   

 

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“1829 Boat Club” won their 4th consecutive gold, coming in a blistering 1:00.19.

With 9 boats completing and a $500 give/get per seat, the goal for the day was to raise $40,000 for Row New York. I’m proud to say that we raised over $39,400 – with “Rad to the Bone” raising almost $9,000. Personally, as it had been a couple years since I had last been in a boat, it was a great reminder of why I love this sport and why I think it’s important to share the sport of rowing with everyone. Many of the rowers in my boat didn’t really know each other. It was incredible to me that after only about an hour on the water, we established a camaraderie and left the boathouse with a connection that you wouldn’t expect from new acquaintances. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and I can’t wait for next year!