The women of Winter Park Crew made their mark, for the second consecutive year, while competing against the world at the Henley Royal Regatta. The team broke a course record on Thursday, June 29, during the opening round of the Junior Women’s Eights competition.
“We went 7:13,” Winter Park Head Girls Coach Mike Vertullo told the32789. “It was a really great race, and to set a course record at Henley is pretty special.”
Established in 1849, the Henley Royal Regatta is the most prestigious rowing competition in the world with teams ranging from Olympians to amateur-level clubs. The 2022 event was a first for the Winter Park women’s team, and only the second in local crew history since the Winter Park men’s team competed at Henley in 2007.
After Thursday’s victory, Winter Park went on to beat the Australian national champs, Melbourne Girls’ Grammar School, in the Friday, June 30, race before falling to Deerfield Academy, U.S.A. on Saturday, July 1.
“The team committed 11 months to something, and to fall short is always a big disappointment,” said Vertullo, who has high hopes of returning to Henley next year. “We’ve been undefeated in state competition for the past few years, we’ll increase training this year, and we have a great upcoming senior and junior class.”
Crew athletes train approximately three hours a day, six days a week for 11 months while maintaining an average 4.5 GPA. But Vertullo admits that talent and training alone can’t pave the way to international competition.
“We want to thank all of our supporters – its an expensive trip and we have great community support,” he said. Fundraising, spearheaded by Crew Boosters of Winter Park, Inc., includes a GoFundMe page, poker tournament, and an art auction in cooperation with The Gallery 32789.
In spite of the semifinals loss, the opportunity to compete on the world stage, and to meet an international community of peers, is something that Vertullo and the team consider an honor and an inspiration.
“There’s great support from all the American crews and there are lot of colleges competing over there, which helps with recruiting,” he said. “We have a lot to look forward to when the next season starts in August.”