Crew coach Nick Harding left CYC (California Yacht Club), a private clubhouse in Marina del Rey, to accept a coaching offer in Denver this past June, initiating a domino effect as five rowers, four of whom attend Marlborough, left the club to join its perennial rival, MAC (Marina Aquatic Center). With only seven rowers remaining at CYC this fall season, the club has become a skeleton of its former self.
Fourth-year rower Catherine’12 said she left CYC because the change in coaching staff brought about a new rowing philosophy, a change in warm-up machinery and a series of disputes over technique. While Harding had encouraged using an ergometer, an exercise machine rowers use to work out and improve their strength, the former assistant coach and new head coach, Craig Leeds, doesn’t approve of using the ergometer at all. According to Catherine, the ergometer provides a better work-out than actual rowing because there is a more consistent resistance.
“I saw that CYC was going nowhere and the only way to stay competitive was to move to MAC,” she said.
Despite the changes implemented at the club, two Marlborough students decided to remain at CYC, including second-year rower, Caroline’14.
“MAC is more competitive and a bigger time commitment than CYC. I only row for fun, and at CYC I can row recreationally,” Caroline said. “Without the other rowers, we didn’t have to make that much of an adjustment. With the new coach we’re getting a lot more done and things are running very smoothly.”
The main difference between the two rowing clubs has always been that CYC focuses more on their sculling program while MAC most often uses sweep boats. Scull boats are small (nine feet) and have one to four rowers in the boat with two oars per person, whereas a sweep boat is larger (12 feet), with four to eight rowers, and each rower has only one oar.
While a scull boat is the best way to start learning the sport because it teaches balance and steering, a sweep boat offers better technique for racing because a rower can apply a lot of pressure with a lower chance of flipping the boat.
Former CYC rower and new MAC member Alex ’13 said she had to make some adjustments when switching from a scull to a sweep boat but is enjoying the higher level of competition at MAC.
“The standards that are set at MAC are higher,” Alex said. “There are specific erg[ometer] times you have to meet in order to get on the water.”
Catherine also said that initially she had trouble adapting to the new team because she has always held an allegiance to CYC.
“Over the years I have put all my energy into hating MAC and keeping the rivalry alive,” Catherine said.
However, Shaw said she was soon able to feel a sense of pride for her new team and now proudly dons her MAC merchandise at regattas, or boat races.
“I have all my MAC gear. I’m a big supporter and am dedicated to making the boat go faster,” Catherine said.
History instructor and crew enthusiast Tom Millar said that with the new additions to MAC, the club will adopt a more dominating presence at the Marina.
“MAC will be better because the club has more talent. The increased internal competition will make the program stronger and will boost LA’s status in the rowing world, which is better for the long term,” Millar said.