NAC 8 gains valuable experience

Back from a memorable weekend in Boston, Newport Aquatic Center varsity eight head coach Jeff Collett and his team gained valuable experience on a national stage.

Racing in on the Charles River with a time of 16 minutes, 15 seconds, NAC finished 29th out of 78 boats — the top 37% — on Sunday at the Head of the Charles Regatta. Collett was a little disappointed with the final result Monday in a phone interview, but was happy about his team's efforts.

Marin Rowing Assn., who rows near the San Francisco Bay Bridge, won the regatta with a time of 15:06.

The NAC team included Sarah Zoamya at coxswain, Chase Roossin in the stroke seat and Colin Johnson on the bow seat. From front to back, in order, were: Brandon Metzger, Cameron Geehr, Matt Kernan, Kyle Flagg, Gordy Box and Nick Zusman.

"I think the exposure to a big race was really great," Collett said. "The trip was nice, the weather was great. We executed pretty well, we took turns right on the money. It was just poor execution of the race plan. Perhaps being on a national stage for the first time had a little to do with it."

Collett's pre-race hopes were to finish in the top 15. Two years ago, with nearly an entirely different team and a different head coach, Newport Aquatic Center's varsity eight finished third at the Head of the Charles race.

"We have a much better race in us. On that day, we didn't do as well as we normally have," he said. "We were full speed, then all of a sudden on the course, something clicked the wrong way. It was good to get it out of us now … it's not really qualifying for Nationals in May, it's not Nationals. It's the beginning of our training. We have a lot of talent, we just happened to have an off day ... it was not indicative of what they'll probably be able to do in the spring."

Collett likened the result to how water polo players look at their results in the fall — how whether they win or not doesn't affect how they'll perform in the spring during swimming season.

The varsity eight team also got to watch the Championship 8 race, with teams like Harvard, Yale, the United States National Rowing team and the German 23-and-under team.

"That was the main reason we came there, besides our race," Collett said. "It was so we could see the best. They were very open, they don't get that much exposure for their sport, so they are very nice to the junior teams. We noticed how large they are. They're about 6-6, they're long. Our team averages 6-2, 168 pounds. There's not a lot of mass on them [yet]."

Collett is in his second season.

As a rower with UC San Diego in 2007 at the Head of the Charles, he said his team finished somewhere between 14th and 20th.

"As a rower, you just go out and do your thing, then go back to the hotel and that's pretty much it,' Collett said. "It's totally different as a coach. There's a lot of choreography, getting a team to travel across the nation, getting to talk to collegiate coaches, talking with other coaches. For me, it was a great experience."

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