Crew Plans New Addition to Fleet of Racing Shells

Posted October 21st, 2010 at 2:37 pm.

The Bryn Mawr College Rowing Team will soon be purchasing a new racing shell, Coach Carol Bower has announced. The boat will be an “eight,” meaning that it holds eight rowers plus one coxswain (the navigator).

The new shell will be the first Vespoli to join the College’s fleet, which currently contains only boats made by Hudson Boat Works. The difference between a Hudson “eight” and a Vespoli “eight,” Bower explained, is that the Vespoli is 52 feet long—about five feet shorter than the Hudson. Also, the Vespoli weighs around 185 pounds while the Hudson weighs 211 pounds, thereby giving the crew less weight to move on the water.

Members of Bryn Mawr's rowing team prepare for a recent meet (photo by Sara Henkind '11)

Members of Bryn Mawr's rowing team prepare for a recent meet (photo by Sara Henkind '11)

The team plans to sell one of its older boats, a 2004 Hudson, and proceeds from that sale will cover about half the cost of the new shell. Contributions from parents, friends, and alumnae of the team will provide the remainder of the funds. Anyone interested in making donations toward this effort, Bower says, may contact her at

Bower decided to buy the boat when she learned that Vespoli had begun producing a new model that is better suited for Division III (NCAA) women because of its lighter weight and closer proximity to the water. She said that she had been thinking about acquiring a new boat for some time, although she stressed that “it is not about the chariot, it’s about the horses,” and, “It’s not about what the new boat will do for the team, but what the team will do for the new boat.”

The new boat will also be easier to transport to regattas because its shorter length will allow it to fit more stably on the trailer (the Bryn Mawr trailer was made specifically to transport racing shells in the 1999-2000 season by Hugh Stevenson, the father of rower Nicole Stevenson ’00).

Bryn Mawr’s crew program is a Division III competitive team that began in the 1999-2000 season and races in both “Eights” and “Coxed Fours” (so called to distinguish them from four-person boats in which a crew member, rather than a coxswain, steers). Members practice on the Schuykill River in the morning when the river is calmest. Rowers leave the college at 5:30 a.m. and are rowing on the water from 6 to 7:30 a.m., after which they return to Bryn Mawr for breakfast by 8:15.

Although getting up that early in the morning is hard for some, team members say early-morning practice is convenient because it does not interfere with academic work, and it is a great way to bond as a team. Team members vary in rowing experience, with some joining the team as seasoned rowers and others joining as novices. The seasons are in both the fall and spring, and the team recruits coxswains and rowers at the start of both.

If you have an interest in joining the team, contact Coach Carol Bower at

—Sarah Henkind ’13

Filed under: athletics,Students Tags: , , , by Tracy Kellmer

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