The men’s crew from Orange Coast College — known as the “Giant Killers” — took second among much larger universities at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston.
The Pirates finished 12 seconds behind UCLA in the men’s collegiate fours last weekend, outpacing boats from UC Santa Barbara, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt and Boston College.
“In a race like that … all it takes is one improper turn or a bump from another boat to make all the difference,” Orange Coast coach Cam Brown said.
Unlike other events that put competitors on a straightaway course, the Head of the Charles follows twists and turns and passes under bridges along 4,800 meters of the Charles River.
Forty boats leave the starting line one at a time, at a 10-second stagger, which can make for crowded conditions on the water.
“You could have the fastest time of your life, then all of a sudden collide with another boat and it’s all over,” Brown said. “We had to make sure we knew the course well, and we had to be prepared for all of the turns and bridges and how to work around all of that.”
Orange Coast is the only community college in the nation that maintains a high-level rowing program. The Pirates broke onto the national scene in the late 1960s and have won 13 national championships.