Twins Head to Regatta
A lifetime of teamwork by Ruprecht brothers
In the video above, varsity crew members Barney and Charlie Ruprecht talk about their love (being out on the river)/hate (being in the hot, stifling boathouse) relationship with rowing.
Rowing is often called the ultimate team sport. To be a successful crew, all eight rowers must execute their strokes in perfect unison.
When BU’s rowing team takes to the water this weekend for the 46th annual Head of the Charles regatta, they will have a distinct advantage few other teams can claim: identical twin brothers who have been performing in sync all their lives.
Varsity crew members Barney (CGS’11) and Charlie (CGS’11) Ruprecht were born just three minutes apart. As infants, they took their first steps on the same day. They attended the same elementary school in Greenwich, Conn., and learned to ride their bikes together. As freshmen in high school, where they excelled at sports, they took up rowing (following the lead of their grandfather, who’d rowed at Yale). By senior year they were competing together as a pair.
When it came time to apply to college, the brothers knew they wanted to row, but their parents encouraged them to choose different universities, so they’d be less dependent on each other. They researched colleges separately, says Barney, but in the end, “we just chose the same school.” Charlie tells the same story. “The decision was independent,” he says. “I said that I was going to BU, and then Barney said, ‘Oh, me too.’”
With their rigorous BU rowing schedule, the Ruprechts’ lives intersect as much as ever. Their practice schedule limits the courses they’re able to enroll in, so they’re assigned to the same academic team at the College of General Studies and take most of their classes together. As freshman rowers last year, they lived on the same floor of The Towers on Bay State Road. This year they’re sharing a South Campus apartment with teammates.
Their days follow the same routine: up at 5:30 a.m., to the boathouse by 6:30, on the river (or the rowing machines—equally despised by both) until 9. Classes from 10 to 3. Back to the river for afternoon practice from 4 to 6:30 or 7. Dinner. Homework. Bed.
Barney estimates they spend 90 percent of their time together. They agree that they wouldn’t mind more time apart, but they don’t mind all the togetherness, either. They’re used to it by now.
“In a sport like rowing,” says BU assistant crew coach John Lindberg, “how you move, how you give your effort, is in large part dictated by your inherited biomechanics, your physical structure.” That being the case, he says, the Ruprecht twins are very similar rowers, which explains why they’re often seated together in the bow of the boat, where their job is to provide balance and stability. “We knew in some way that those two being next to each other would allow them to draw some strength through their past experience,” says Lindberg. “Certainly, there’s a bond there that’s deeper and not fully understood by anybody else.”
Coaches and professors do, of course, notice the brothers’ differences. “Barney is a little bit quieter; Charlie is a little more out there,” notes Regina Hansen, a CGS senior lecturer. Lindberg, too, notices subtle distinctions. “Barney likes to take stock of things first, to get the full measure of what’s going to be done, how it’s going to be done,” he says. “Charlie is a little bit more adventurous, a little more willing to confront challenges head-on.”
On the river, however, a team’s success depends on the ability of its members to set aside their differences so they can think and move as one. The freshman squad had a winning season last year, Lindberg says, not because it was the biggest, strongest crew on the water, but because the rowers worked so well together. The brothers very possibly set the pattern for this success. “Certainly Barney and Charlie had years of putting their differences aside to work together,” Lindberg says. “I have to assume that the relationship between the two served as a model for the rest of the crew.”
As members of the varsity team this year, the brothers hope Sunday’s regatta will kick off another winning season. The two will row in BU’s second varsity boat in the championship eight division of the Head of the Charles.
“I’m really looking forward to the race because of the atmosphere the entire way down the course,” says Charlie. “Everyone supports BU the entire way, and it’s a lot of fun representing the University.”
The 46th annual Head of the Charles regatta, the world’s largest two-day rowing event, takes place on October 23 and 24.
This story first appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of Collegian.2 Comments