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Ahead Of The Pack: Zachary Feldstein Wins Head Of The Charles

Zachary Feldstein
Zachary Feldstein with his team after winning Head of the Charles

   It’s a bright, crisp morning. The bustle of the competition begins to increase on the shore, but all is calm on the water. The oars have clicked into their locks, and the boats glide smoothly to their starting marks. 

   The thoughts of the competitors weren’t as calm as their surroundings, but senior Zachary Feldstein and his four-person boat could not have wished for a better result. 

   On Oct. 22, Feldstein and his crew won first place out of 90 boats in the Men’s Youth Fours event at the Head of the Charles (HOTC) Regatta on the Charles River in Boston, MA. Head of the Charles is the largest multi-day regatta in the world.

   With 75 events, 792 rowing clubs, 2598 boats, and tens of thousands of spectators, the event might have seemed overwhelming, but Feldstein’s confidence in his team only increased as he arrived at the water. 

   “I believed that we could do it the entire time, but it wasn’t until the morning before the race that I really felt it. It just felt right,” Feldstein said. 

In addition to Feldstein, three other students from Piedmont High School with the Oakland Strokes Rowing Club program competed in the Head of the Charles Regatta. Senior Jackson Violich participated in the Men’s Youth eights event, and his boat came fourth. Seniors Alexandra Gallagher, Cleopatra Tahawi, and their boat achieved 12th place in the Women’s Youth eights event. 

“The course is really great and there is so much history behind it. It’s an integral part of the rowing community, and to get to be a part of it was really special,” Tahawi said. 

According to HOTC race committee co-chair Kate Broderick, more than 11,700 athletes participated this year, coming from 26 different countries.

  “It’s sort of the ultimate team sport. When you go to race, you’re relying on each other. As a team, you’re only as good as the weakest person,” said Oakland Strokes Men’s Rowing Assistant Coach Ben Davison. “When you’re training with your friends, you build this bond because you’re doing this hard thing together.”

  Feldstein greatly values this friendship aspect of rowing. 

  “I think the community you build and the support is genuinely unlike anything else,” Feldstein said. 

  Oakland Strokes Varsity Rower Nathan Fineman also attended Head of the Charles and was a member of Feldstein’s boat. They spent a considerable amount of time together training to achieve their win. 

  “Zach is a very patient and understanding guy and he pays very close attention to detail. He’s also a super hard worker and there’s never a doubt he’s going to give it his all any time you’re in the boat with him,” Fineman said. 

  Davison is familiar with Feldstein’s dedication to the program and the sport as well. 

  “Practices are hard and the athletes are challenged, but he’s always got a positive attitude and he’s always working hard, day in, day out,” Davison said. “He’s always got questions, he’s always asking how he can get better, and that’s why they were able to win in Boston.”

  Feldstein’s love for the sport also shines through in his excitement to share it with others. 

  “If you haven’t found the sport that you really love yet, I would definitely try rowing. We take in everyone who wants to row, even if you know nothing about the sport. I came in knowing nothing, and I have been shown nothing but love,” Feldstein said. 

  The Oakland Strokes Rowing Club is like a family, Feldstein said.

  “Come on down. Just starting, day one, that’s all it takes. Genuinely, it’s unlike anything else. It’s addicting,” Feldstein said.

  In addition to acting as incredible recognition for his hard work, the achievement of Feldstein’s win at the Head of the Charles Regatta has solidified an important message for him.

  “The only limitations you have are the ones you put on yourself,” Feldstein said. 

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About the Contributor
Clare Weiss, Staff Writer
Clare Weiss (11) is a Staff Writer at TPH. Outside of school, Clare enjoys listening to music of all kinds, exploring new places, spending time with friends, and is a member of the Piedmont Troubadours.
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