At the start of the Social Distancing Regatta


In early 2020, our athletes were training in Austin, Texas, gearing up for singles and doubles Olympic Trials, and excited for the final year of the Tokyo Olympic Cycle.

In early 2021, our athletes will be training in Austin, Texas, hoping that it will be the final year of the Tokyo Olympic Cycle.

What a year it has been.

When the 2020 USRowing Olympic Trials in Sarasota were postponed, no one knew that the new date would be in 2021. It quickly became apparent that it would be the case, as the Olympics themselves were put on hold as the world battled COVID-19. With no racing, many boathouses along the Charles on lock down, 2020 became the year of adaptation. Once things settled down, our athletes got into singles on the Charles, and got to work. Ironically, because of restrictions and lack of coordinated training elsewhere, this resulted in the biggest training group the BRF has seen to date. Gevvie Stone, Cicely Madden and Mary Jones Nabel were initially joined by Felice Mueller, Kendall Brewer and John Graves, as well as Emily Kallfelz once she recovered from a back injury, as well as Maggie Fellows, Alie Rusher, Molly Reckford and Emily Schmieg, with appearances from Alex Twist, Matt O’Leary, and the usual mix of Charles River Masters from Cambridge, Riverside, and Union Boat Clubs. The group trained under the watchful eyes of Gregg Stone and local collegiate coaches, who, unfortunately, were not able to conduct their spring and fall seasons. Unfortunately, because of health concerns, our Para sculler, Hallie Smith was confined to indoor training for the majority of 2020.

While international or even official domestic racing was off the table, the Charles River community managed to provide several opportunities to test our athletes mettle and fitness. In August, the entire group competed in the Social Distancing Regatta, on the 2000 meter course in the Basin. After 3 days of racing, Gevvie Stone, Cicely Madden and Mary Jones finish 1-2-3 in the women’s single, while Alex Karwoski, Kevin Meador and Mike DiSanto took the podium in the men’s single. The regatta would not have been possible without incredible support from the Charles River Community, and the athletes were incredibly grateful for the opportunity to line up for side by side racing on their home course.

The A final of the Women's Single at the Social Distancing Regatta
Gevvie Stone, Cicely Madden, Mary Jones Nabel, Jen Forbes, Maggie Fellows and Molly Reckford competing in the A final of the Women’s Single at the Social Distancing Regatta.

Traditionally, fall in Boston is all about gearing up for the Head of the Charles, but the with the regatta going virtual, local athletes had to look to other outlets for competition. Fortunately, Riverside’s Head of the Kevin (HOK) stepped in to fill the void with 5 scrimmages from August through the end of October. Again, our athletes got to race on home turf, with Mary Jones Nabel scoring the highest time standard percentage of all competitors, and Gevvie Stone posting the fastest recorded women’s time in HOK history. Not to be outdone by our athletes, long time board member Greg Benning took the top points spot for the men.

Mary Jones was the overall points leader at the Head of the Kevin Series.
Mary Jones was the overall points leader at the Head of the Kevin Series.

While access to strength training facilities was non-existent in 2020, our athletes made it work, setting up a makeshift gym in a garage, and still working with longtime strength trainer Glenn Harris to continue building their power.

The fall concluded with a homage to Torino’s Silverskiff, the Charles Skiff, organized by Greg Benning and Sean Wolf. A 10.7 kilometer race from Arsenal Bridge to Magazine Beach and back truly tested the endurance and steering abilities of all competitors. Gevvie, Mary Jones and Alie Rusher finished on the podium for the open women, while Alex Twist, Casey Howshall and Peter Graves topped the podium for the men. Regatta director Benning finished a very impressive 4th.

As our athletes head to Austin to train for trials, we hope that 2021 brings everyone happiness, health, and a return to racing at all levels of the sport!