SPS Today: Back-to-Back Wins on Turkey Pond

Halcyon dominates the Boat Races for the second year in a row


Memories are made – and revisited – on Turkey Pond each year during Anniversary Weekend. On June 2, generations of St. Paul’s School students, graduates, and their families descended on the docks for the annual Boat Races.

Last year, when Halcyon upset Shattuck, the perennial favorite in the 147-year-old contest, the club’s victory was bittersweet. They won the majority of races that afternoon and hoisted the Lester C. Dole Cup at the Flagpole Ceremony, but a victory for the first boys boat eluded them. In 2018, the boys in crimson (5:26.7) pulled ahead of their blue-clad Shattuck competitors (5:27.9) in the mile sprint by 1.2 seconds. Shattuck’s lone victory in the Halcyon-dominated event came in the girls first boat race, where the eight gained open water on Halcyon (6:12.7) to finish the course in 5:56.9. The second girls Halcyons (6:42.9) edged Shattuck (6:43.7) in the closest race of the day, while the second boys Halcyon (5:55.5) beat Shattuck (6:11.1) by open water.

After the first boys returned their racing shell (“Richard F. Davis”) to the boathouse, the crew rallied around Halcyon co-captain Justin Li ’18 for his ceremonial dunk into Turkey Pond as coxswain of the victorious boat. “It’s fun when you get thrown,” said a drenched Li. “It’s a compliment.” Claiming the Dole Cup for the majority of boys and girls races won is a point of pride for the clubs, but to many participants the event means more than collecting a trophy. “It’s great to showcase our hard work for the alumni,” said Li, who coxed the boys varsity first eight during the regular season. “And, as Sixth Formers, we get to finish our career with a really enjoyable race.”

For the alumni who return to Turkey Pond on Anniversary Weekend, that feeling stands the test of time. Members of the Form of 1958, including SPS Board President Archibald Cox, Jr. ’58, launched from the docks in honor of their 60th reunion. Orsi Gorgenyi ’93 made the journey across the Atlantic Ocean from her native Hungary to join formmate Page Sargisson ’93 for the opportunity to glide along Turkey Pond once more. Sargisson’s sons (ages 8 and 10), cheered them on with enthusiasm.

“The whole experience with St. Paul’s was extraordinary, but the rowing, these ponds – this environment is amazing,” said Gorgenyi, who studied at SPS as an ASSIST scholar. “It was probably the best experience of my life.” Memories returned for Ryland Howard ’63 as he and Barton Baldwin ’63 stood beneath the shade of a giant pine tree near the shore. Howard rowed for four years at the School but remembers getting off to a rocky start as the crew rowed long distances on Saturdays, much to his surprise.

“Nobody said we were doing that,” recalled Howard, “so, at one point, one of the biggest, broadest shouldered guys in the form ahead of me turned around and said, ‘Are you ok?’” By Sixth Form year, Howard was more than accustomed to the rigorous training, having earned a place in the Shattuck first boat that in 1963 received the Scudder Memorial Trophy for the First Boys Crew Race at Anniversary. He went on to row with the lightweight crew at Harvard. In addition to 1958 and 1993, alumni formed full or partial crews to represent the Forms of 1968, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008, and 2013.

Recent graduate Emiliana Geronimo ’17, who now rows at the University of Virginia, spoke of the bonds formed while guiding the boat in unison along Turkey Pond and the awe at returning and being part of generations of former SPS rowers. “This event is just so special,” she said. “Everyone comes back.”

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