Gevvie Stone Goes After Record Breaking Win in Head of the Charles

CAMBRIDGE, MASS., Oct. 23, 2016 - Boats race towards the finish line during the Head of the Charles Regatta. Photo by Alexandra Wimley/BU News Service

Érico Lotufo
Boston University News Service

Rowers get up early to train, preferring the crack of dawn for their start time. Genevra “Gevvie” Stone’s schedule was a bit different. Though she was hitting the Charles River to practice around 9 a.m., she had been awake for much longer, doing night shifts at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center as part of her medical residency.

Today the Newton native will row in a three-mile head race down her home waters in search of her eighth win in the Championship singles of the Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR). If she wins, she would break the current record she holds with Anne Marden and Jim Dietz.

“The record is obviously there in the back of my mind,” Stone said in a phone call earlier this week. “But it’s not why I’m rowing.” In between sentences, she would sometimes yawn. Though it was 8 p.m., Stone had just woken up for her shift at Beth Israel.

“I respect Anne Marden,” Stone said. “She was a mentor to me and I even rowed her boat internationally for a couple of years.”

Stone, 32, is part of rowing royalty in the Charles. Her father, Gregg Stone, was the U.S. top sculler when the 1980 Moscow Olympics loomed and only politics—the western block’s boycott following the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan—left him out of the competition. Her mother, Lisa Stone, rowed in the women’s quadruple sculls in the 1976 Montreal Olympics and finished seventh.

“This race has been an iconic weekend for me ever since I began to walk and remember anything,” Stone said. “Growing up in a rowing family, it was always a weekend of friends coming to town.”

Stone surpassed both her parents and their friends. Beyond her seven HOCR championship singles titles, she claimed the silver medal at the Rio Olympics single sculls event, finishing behind Australia’s Kim Brennan.

After tying Marden’s and Dietz’s record last year, Stone told BU News Service that she still hadn’t decided what would happen in her rowing career as she prepared to start her residency.

“I’m taking it step-by-step,” she said at the time. “We’ll see what happens.”

She began her residency in emergency medicine at Beth Israel this June after spending a year in what she called a “semi-permanent vacation” after the Olympic silver. In that time, she rowed, coached and rowed some more, winning another HOCR in the process. Now her schedule is a bit tighter.

“It’s a good change, I like being busy,” Stone said. “Residency is a challenge, a time to learn new skills.”

Even if the oars have taken a backseat in her life, Stone still has an unique advantage over her competitors: she was raised in the Charles River. Knowing where to go is a huge boon.

“I love the mental challenge, rowing in a vacuum for three miles,” Stone said. “In head racing, you don’t know where you stand, so it’s a mental battle against yourself.”

Despite competing this weekend, Stone said she can’t be certain of how long she can keep up rowing competitively while pursuing her medical career.

“It will be hard to balance the two for an extended period of time,” Stone said. “I enjoy how much I’m rowing now.”

She paused for a second and then repeated the same thing she told BU News Service last year.

“I’m taking it step-by-step,” she said. “We’ll see what happens.”

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