There weren’t any excuses for Gevvie Stone at the Head of the Charles regatta Saturday now that her medical studies were buttoned up.
Last year, Stone balanced her rigorous rowing regimen with her M.D. studies at Tufts University, and finished second in the championship women’s singles.
At the 50th running of the regatta Saturday, the Newton native would not be denied as she claimed her fifth title, winning the race in 18:39.89.
“I felt like the pressure was on a little bit more this year because there weren’t any excuses,” Stone said. “It definitely makes training easier.”
Kate Bertko, who edged Stone in last year’s race by two seconds, finished second this year in 19:02.33.
Stone credited Bertko, her former teammate at Princeton University, for pushing the pace throughout the 3-mile stretch.
“Kate is a great competitor, she pushed me the whole race,” Stone said.
Stone said she was energized by the fan support along the banks of the Charles — which came to a crescendo when a fan shouted, “Go Tigers!” — an homage to her alma mater, at the Eliot Bridge.
“That was the best thing I heard all day,” Stone said. “People were screaming the whole course, it was amazing, it was so motivational. But that meant a lot, because Kate has pushed me in so many ways and made me faster and stronger.”
Stone, who finished seventh in the single sculls at the 2012 London Olympics, said she hopes to compete in Rio in 2016. She doesn’t plan on applying for residency until 2017.
“I’ll be in a small boat probably,” Stone said. “Boat feel is one of my strengths, so being in a small boat is better for me and the US.”
Stone will stroke again Sunday in the Cambridge Boat Club’s Great Eight in the championship women’s eights.
Three-peat for Benning
Greg Benning could see the regatta banners blowing in the wind as they hung on the Eliot Bridge.
Benning anticipated the final stretch of the 3-mile course would be challenging to navigate with a headwind, but by then there was hardly a competitor in sight.
For the third straight year, the 52-year-old Benning won the grand master singles (50-plus) with a course-record time of 18:15.16.
Benning, representing the Cambridge Boat House, broke his own record, which he set in 2013 (18:15.87).
“The conditions were a little bit different,” he said. “The wind was stronger, the same direction, but probably twice as stronger. It was very fast in the first mile and a half of the course.”
Benning took advantage of the tailwind and built a head of steam to make it through the final stretch.
“When you have that kind of a tailwind, you bump your rating up one because with the wind pushing you, the oars aren’t quite as heavy so you can work it a bit more,” Benning said.
Benning’s three-peat was the first since Larry Klecatsky won five grand master singles titles in a row from 1991-95.
Special for Sinkovics
Croatian brothers Valent and Martin Sinkovic have this year’s world title on their résumé but winning Saturday’s men’s championship doubles crown was one for their bucket list.
“Everyone said that the Head of the Charles is special and this was living that special feeling,” Martin said after he and his sturdy sibling outpulled US brethren and three-time victors Tom and Peter Graves by more than 17 seconds in 15:40.56, shattering by more than 11 seconds the course record set last year by Sam Stitt and Matthew Miller.
“We won the race,” Martin said. “That is the main thing.”
Inge Janssen of the Netherlands, who won the women’s crown with Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig last year, did a double Dutch with countrywoman Elisabeth Hogerwerf, beating Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic and Lithuania’s Donata Vistartaite by nearly seven seconds in 17:27.51 while shattering the 2008 course mark by Juliette Haigh and Emma Twigg by nearly 20 seconds.
One wild ride
Molesey’s men’s senior master eight, which included Olympic gods Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent, had a carnival ride of a day, going from fourth to 20th to fifth after a safety violation at Magazine Beach was assessed and then rescinded upon appeal. The London club, stalled behind the Wesleyan alumni and the Aging Aggies, made what was considered a dangerous pass along the buoy line and was given a 60-second penalty. The pass, handled by Olympic gold-medal cox Garry Herbert, ultimately was deemed deft . . . After Saturday’s balmy weather Sunday’s conditions are expected to be brisk and more blustery, with winds shifting from south-southwest to north-northwest. “No course records tomorrow,” predicted race director Fred Schoch, whose Team Attager seatmates won the grand master eights title ahead of the 1980 Olympians. “The old guys did it again,” crowed Roger Borggaard. “The ancient guys.” . . . Cancer treatments didn’t keep Linda Muri from retaining her senior master doubles title with CB Sands-Bohrer. “CB did the math and said, you’ll be ready for the Head of the Charles and you’re rowing with me,” said Muri, who was diagnosed last spring. Muri, who’s now Dartmouth’s women’s coach after a lengthy tenure as Harvard’s men’s freshman lightweight mentor, is savoring the minimal traffic on the Connecticut River. “I can’t get used to it,” she said. “I have that Charles River twitch.” . . . Richard Kendall, who was shooting for his 13th title in the 70-and-over category, came up short against former grand veteran champ Christopher Collins. “He cleaned my clock,” conceded the 84-year-old ‘Old Man River’, who won last year. Rowing two events at last week’s Head of the Housatonic didn’t help him. “I won’t do that next year,” vowed Kendall.
The Crosby father-son combination from Manchester-by-the-Sea had a creditable day with son Joshua stroking the Union Boat Club to a 10th-place finish in the masters eight while father David, who rowed in the junior single at the first Head in 1965, finished 44th among the senior veterans.
John Powers of the Globe staff contributed to this report.