Local rowers sprint to top-10 finishes at prestigious Boston race

Varsity Women Rowers with the San Diego Rowing Club proved they are among the world’s best, earning 5th- and 8th-place finishes against an elite field of rowers at the 50th annual Head of the Charles Regatta.

As the world’s largest and most prestigious two-day regatta, the HOCR attracts the best rowers from North America, Europe and other regions. The rowers compete on a Charles River course that runs three miles against strong currents under seven bridges and through difficult turns.

In the Women’s Youth Doubles (2x), SDRC’s Mariko Kelly and Jillian Renly claimed an impressive 5th place in a field of 33 boats, besting their competition with a blazing time of 20:21.38. The youth doubles field included junior national championship teams from Germany, Canada and the U.S.

In the Women’s Youth Fours (4+), SDRC’s Christina Indudhara, Rachel Wayne, Cassandra Fernandes, Jordan Glenn, and coxswain Madeline Ottilie earned a stunning 8th place in a field of 84 boats. In windy, cold race conditions, the SDRC 4+ team surged ahead of more than a half-dozen boats, fighting their way to a 20:22.81 finish time — just seven-tenths of a second off 7th place and drawing praise from the race announcer.

Two-time U.S. Olympic rowing gold medalist Susan Francia coaches the SDRC Varsity Women and cheered the team’s results. SDRC was the only club to bring home two top 10 finishes in the youth doubles and youth fours races.

“I am incredibly proud of the accomplishments of the girls,” said Francia. “Jill (Renly) and Mariko (Kelly) had a fantastic race, pushing the pace in the double. We didn’t even know the caliber of athletes that we were up against in this field, and Jill and Mariko really held their own.

“The four very pleasantly surprised me with their top 10 finish,” she added. “Three of the four girls were novices last year, but if you were watching the race you wouldn’t have been able to tell. They rowed very well and kept pushing their boat ahead. Maddie (Ottilie) steered a phenomenal course, yelling at crews to get out of the way, all while calmly motivating the crew to stay focused. Both boats really rose to the challenge in this incredibly competitive regatta, and they looked good doing it!”

At the HOCR, rowers have staggered starts, separated by 15 seconds. They race against the clock instead of directly head-to-head. Boats start in single file, but as they row the strenuous course, faster boats pass the others.

According to the event’s organizers, the regatta featured more than 11,000 athletes this year, competing in 2,252 boats in 60 events. Rowers from clubs, schools and universities represented 40 states and 28 countries. More than 400,000 spectators lined the river for miles to watch.

All seven girls representing SDRC at the regatta attend local high schools: In the 2x, Kelly is a senior at La Jolla Country Day School, and Renly is a junior at University City High School.

In the group rowing the 4+, Indudhara, a junior, attends La Costa Canyon High School; both Wayne and Fernandes are seniors at Cathedral Catholic High School; Glenn, a junior, attends Coronado High School; and Ottilie, a senior, attends Francis Parker School.

The Varsity Women row on Mission Bay out of SDRC’s boathouse on El Carmel Point.

The San Diego Rowing Club is a nonprofit founded in 1888 and committed to helping develop and expand the sport. The club’s Juniors Program offers one of the premier places to learn to row, developing strong athletes who go on to compete on college crew and national teams each year. The club trains students from dozens of high schools across San Diego County.

For information about SDRC, contact Director of Rowing Chris Callaghan at, or visit