The Windsor High School Rowing Club and the Nassau Rowing Club (NRC) will be on the Charles River at the prestigious Head of the Charles Regatta in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States. Competition is set for October 21-23.
Representing the Windsor High School Rowing Club is Matthias Simms and Isaiah Ellis in the men’s youth doubles. The NRC is represented by Kathryn de Souza in the women’s grand master singles; Dehron Smith in the men’s championship singles; and Jessica and Poppy Proffitt in the women’s youth doubles.
Jessica Proffitt traveled to Cambridge last year for the 2021 Head of Charles Regatta. The 16-year-old traversed the course then with her older sister, Sascha Proffitt, so she knows what to expect as she rows with her younger sister this time.
“It is a technical race and there are a lot of bridges, and so it is a hard course. I am in bow and I have to steer the boat. Last year it was a little challenging because we do not have any obstacle courses on our lake to navigate around. Now I have a better awareness to find the fastest route. We just need to focus,” Jessica Proffitt said.
Heading to Cambridge under the NRC is Kyle Chea. He has high expectations from his doubles team.
“She (Jessica) knows exactly what she’s going into; she steered the course last year, so she knows where the challenging moments will come, and we’ve identified where we can build on last year’s successes. We were 42nd out of 53 crews, which was a big achievement for a debut on the Charles; I’d be ecstatic with a finish in the mid-low 30’s out of 55 crews this year,” Chea said.
Poppy Proffitt is the youngest of the contingent at 14 years old and is excited to compete in her third international regatta. She has had a tough training camp in the past month and a half and will be looking to put that training to use. She sits in the stern position and will control the pace of the boat.
“I know that it is a big regatta, so I am a little scared. We had a tough training camp with that included doing a 5K on the ergometer every Sunday with it being increased to two beats every week. I hope that considering how hard we trained that it pays off during this race and we have a very good experience,” Poppy Proffitt said.
Chea knows that Smith will have a tough field as he do not have the tenure and experience as his competitors but likes Smith’s development since taking up the singles this year.
Simms and Ellis took up rowing last year November and has made progress in the sport in just about a year. Simms will be in the bow seat and will be making the calls while Ellis will sit in the stern seat. Simms is aware there are six bridges and five very steep turns but he is looking forward to the challenge.
“This is our first time going. We have very little international experience, but we will do our best. We are looking to put our name out there, the experience and come back and go for gold,” Simms said.
Ellis is in Grade 10 at Windsor School says that there are a lot of colleges that will be at the regatta and will look to get his name out there.
“I am surprised that I was able to compete in the sport at a high level so quickly. At my age I am high in the rankings and look forward to the competition,” Ellis said.
Simms is 16 years old and Ellis is 15 years old. They will be looking at meeting new people and making connections, and having a great experience on the course.
Windsor School head coach, Canadian Olympian Rob Gibson hopes his rowers have a great learning
experience for them. He advised them about the course and focused on fitness through training.
“My advice has been to go and enjoy the experience and to be prepared to handle all weather conditions,” Gibson said. “We’ve primarily focused on building fitness through challenging workouts on the rowing machines in recent weeks. They complement each other well on the water and have an instinct to push each other when training in the gym.”
Gibson told Simms and Ellis how huge of an opportunity it is to get an entry at the regatta which has 2,471 entries from 793 clubs.
De Souza is in Chicago and has been training four days per week on water and the other days on land running. She also spent a week in Vermont, USA at a rowing camp at the end of September to prepare for this regatta. It is her second regatta.
“I am hoping to finish in the middle of the pack out of 55 competitors. It is a very competitive regatta if I finish in the middle of the group. Hopefully, I do better but that is my expectations.”
She has been rowing four of the past four years in her mid-50’s after being a runner all her life.
The regatta began in 1965 and has attracted hundreds of thousands of rowers to the Charles River. The rowers who are in Nassau will leave for Cambridge later this week.