NU club rowing team heads to China for international regatta

Northwestern Crew team members row in a competition. The team will head to China later this month for the “Rowing in Henan” Zhengzhou International University Rowing Regatta.

Source: NU Crew

Northwestern Crew team members row in a competition. The team will head to China later this month for the “Rowing in Henan” Zhengzhou International University Rowing Regatta.

Ella Brockway, Assistant Sports Editor

In 2016, the Northwestern club rowing team took the longest trip current varsity women’s captain Sarah Evan said she has seen during her four years as a member: 700 miles to the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia.

That trip will soon be surpassed in both distance and perhaps magnitude by another event, one that will take place nearly 7,000 miles away.

The club rowing team will participate in this month’s “Rowing in Henan” Zhengzhou International University Rowing Regatta held in Zhengzhou, China, from April 20 to April 23. The event, which NU Crew president Katie Cavanaugh said is likely the first international trip in the club’s 37-year existence, includes a day of racing on the Longzi Lake in Zhengzhou as well as opportunities for cultural excursions.

“Getting to experience a different culture and just, even though it’s a couple days and we won’t be there long at all, being able to just learn a tiny bit and be in another place where it’s going to be way different from anywhere else I’ve been is a valuable experience for everyone,” Evan said.

The regatta will take place on April 21 with both a 5,000-meter and a 300-meter race. A group of 20 rowers will travel to Zhengzhou, composed of two men’s and women’s teams of eight rowers each along with a spares and a coxswain per team. The club primarily competes in long-track races during the fall and focuses on short-track races, or sprints, in the spring.

Cavanaugh said NU Crew learned of this event through a former club president based in Shanghai who had a connection with a member of Fenghe Sports, the club that is hosting this month’s regatta. She noted that Fenghe Sports is a relatively young club — it only formed in 2011 — but rowing is a sport growing in popularity in China.

The Weinberg senior added that the club’s philosophy that “you can make anyone a rower” plays into the sport’s global appeal. Evan agreed, saying the similar experiences of rowers around the world allow the sport to transcend language barriers.

“Basically if you have water … you can (row) anywhere, and then everyone who does it has a connection,” Evan said. “So even if you might not be able to communicate that well, you know exactly what the other person is going through as they’re racing next to you.”

Teams from the Amsterdam Student Rowing Club Nereus in the Netherlands and the University of Cambridge in England will also be participating in the Zhengzhou regatta, along with a number of other Chinese clubs that include Fenghe Sports and a team from Xidian University. Cavanaugh said the opportunities to row against clubs with well-established histories in the sport will provide learning experiences for the members of NU Crew.

Ben Wagner, the assistant director of intramurals, sport clubs and Wildcat Camp at NU Recreation, will also accompany the team. Wagner said that while other clubs have had the opportunity to travel abroad in the past, this is the first club that will take an international trip in the three years he has been at NU Recreation.

“I think the ability to exchange ideas or information on how different programs abroad are organized and supported, as well as just getting a better understanding on the culture of higher education and student-run organizations in China, will be very interesting and educational,” Wagner told The Daily in an email.

It will be important for NU rowers to learn from how other international clubs comport themselves at big regatta events like the one in Zhengzhou, Cavanaugh said.

She acknowledged that the trip also has potential to act as a recruiting tool in the future for NU Crew.

“If I saw that the rowing team was going to China, I’d be like, ‘Wow, how do I get on that team?’” Cavanaugh said. “That’ll be nice for the team to be recognized more largely by the University because people don’t even realize we have a team a good chunk of the time.”

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