Men’s Rowing Wins Prestigious Event in Boston

L-R: Sacha Roiena, Endrik Brettmann, Bennett Rossell, Lukasz Bajorek, Matthew Franks

At the Head of the Charles Regatta, Oct. 20-22, Stetson was head of the class in the Men’s Collegiate Fours race — winning at the prestigious event for the first time ever. 

The 4+ race, a three-mile sprint upstream, involves a shell (boat) of four rowers and a coxswain to steer. Stetson’s team included rowers Sacha Roiena (sophomore), Matthew Franks (senior), Lukasz Bajorek (sophomore) and Endrik Brettmann (freshman), along with coxswain Bennett Rossell (senior). The team finished first among 44 entrants in a time of 17:08.23, which was more than 6 seconds faster than the second-place finisher, University of San Diego. 

Jamie Francis, head rowing coach: “As a program, this helps to reinforce that we have the right people, doing the right things … .”

The regatta, staged on Charles River in Boston, is the largest rowing event in the world. It’s been a fixture in collegiate rowing since 1965. This year’s event included more than 11,000 athletes in 61 events with more than 1,900 boats racing. Initial entry to the event is done through a lottery system. The Stetson men’s team received a lottery entry last year and finished 10th overall in the Men’s Collegiate Four category. That finish earned an automatic entry to this year’s regatta, as well as a starting place in the 10th position.  

“Going into this year’s regatta, we knew this entry was faster than last year’s, but many things outside of our control can happen on a racecourse like the Charles River,” commented Jamie Francis, head rowing coach. “It was the combination of our rowers’ speed, our coxswain’s skill and a little good fortune that allowed us to win in Boston.”

“Winning is unusual,” he continued. “There were 43 other boats in our category that were trying to do the same thing as us. As a program, this helps to reinforce that we have the right people, doing the right things, in the right ways working to achieve our goals. This is the best finish for Stetson University at this regatta.”

Now, Francis expects even more from his Hatters.

“Our goals for this season are bigger than Boston,” he said. “And we have a lot of work to do in order to continue on this trajectory.” 

Also at the event, in the Women’s Club Fours race, Stetson finished 21st out of 52 teams. The result — the best in program history for the women — earned the team an automatic qualification for next year’s event.