URI’s men’s 8 boat wins bronze medal at New England Rowing Championships

KINGSTON, R.I – May 22, 2017 – For the third time in 50 years, the University of Rhode Island’s men’s varsity 8 boat won the bronze medal at New England Rowing Championship regatta in Worcester, Mass. The varsity eight squad from URI’s crew club finished ahead of many established teams and clubs from the region.

Ben Amundson of Newport, Grady Bolan of Newport, Connor Dunn of Bedford, N.H., Joe Martinez of Warwick, Jack Matthews of Ridgefield, Conn., Lars Murphy of Portland, Maine, Carl Neff of Exeter, Colin Moulton of Norwood, Mass. and coxswain Rachel Purington of Hooksett, N.H. can now add their bronze medals to those won by URI in 1980 and 2004.

This year’s crew was made up of a combination of lightweight and heavyweight rowers. Coach Bob Gillette said that lightweight rowers usually face a big disadvantage when rowing directly into a headwind and when other weather conditions are difficult. Despite those conditions, the Rams were ready for a strong effort.

“I told the guys that I thought we could compete this year, as long as we didn’t get a headwind on race day,” Gillette said.

Unfortunately, May 6, at Worcester’s Lake Quinsigamond was anything but a calm day, with a 15-20 miles-per-hour headwind, leading to some race cancellations and delays. Despite the heavy weather, the URI crew was the only club program to reach the final.

“These conditions were our worst fear coming into the regatta,” Gillette said. “But in the days leading up to the race, when I saw the weather forecast, I started preparing for the conditions. After considering a couple of different scenarios, I decided to change the crew’s set-up in the boat.”

The team also opted for a risky and courageous strategy and decided to take the lead right from the beginning, which meant that the race was going to be painful and difficult. Still, the Rams stayed in the fight and captured third place.

“When we’ve only managed to do it three times in 50 years, I guess it’s pretty special, and I’m really happy for the group that rose to the occasion this year,” Gillette said.

“I think the amount of training, early-morning workouts and dedication to their sport is amazing. I’m happy for them that all of their effort paid off,” said Chris Daigle, URI coordinator of Club Sports.

The URI rowing team will soon have another opportunity to win medals in the American Collegiate Rowing Association’s regatta on Memorial Day weekend. The team will attempt to defend its national title in the Lightweight 4 category.

With 10 rowers, men and women, rowing small boats, the Rams will also try to win the overall Small Boat Trophy, which includes several weight classes and boat sizes.

“Last year, we were third in the points total with only three entries. We think we can do better this year, and we are training twice a day, every day, trying to get ready,” Gillette said.

Sarah Saltiel-Ragot, an international student from Sciences Po Rennes in France and an intern in URI’s Department of Marketing and Communications, wrote this press release.