This year's running of the Aberdeen Dad Vails was, without question, one of the biggest and best rowing events on the circuit, featuring live coverage via ESPN 3, commentary from Keith Russel of ABC (along with Liz Santaniello and Jason Read, who did a great job – even hitting us with a "they were all over that like spiders on a birthday cake" line at one point), interviews – the list goes on. Everyone involved deserves to be commended for their great work – the regatta has done a great deal for the sport in terms of exposure, city-wide involvement, and recognition of all that it takes to make collegiate rowing work. Watching the streaming webcast of the event on ESPN 3, I couldn't help but feel proud of all those competing, and thankful to all those who made the event possible. It's a massive step forward for rowing in the US.
Now, let's turn our head to the results. On Thursday, we released our picks for the Grand Final of the Men's Varsity 8 (The Aberdeen Trophy), with a slight contingency based on whether or not Brock could return some members of their winning 8 from last year, as well as our pick to win. Let's see how we did:
Results from May 14:
So, we picked five out of six finalists, though our order of finish wasn't quite right. The racing over the weekend was tough, and the Wolverines (our pick for the silver) proved that they had the speed to get the job done, winning by roughly a length over the field. Greg Hartsuff has done it again, and deserves all the credit and recognition he's gotten for building what is truly a perennially strong program – Michigan is still the team to beat in US collegiate club rowing. The race for second was intense between FIT and Delaware, with FIT just holding off Delaware as they charged to the line. Frank Biller's Virginia, our predicted winner, ended up in fourth place, but was just 4 seconds off first place Michigan. The two top club teams in the US were on display, as Michigan took home the prize in the Varsity 8 (as well as medals in the 2V, LWT8, Frosh LWT8, and the Frosh 4+), while Virginia won the 2V, and earned a bronze in the Frosh 8, behind strong entries from Purdue and Drexel. It will be very interesting to see how UVA and Michigan match up again at ACRAs later this month, as we've discussed.
Surprisingly, Temple didn't make the Grand (congrats on a strong performance to Jacksonville), but the field was quite deep, and both Drexel and Temple had the potential to be in the top six. Very tight racing all the way around, and very exciting to see men's club rowing continue to improve and excel on a grand stage.
The results of the men's Gold Cup were also somewhat surprising, with Iztok Cop taking home the $10,000 prize for first place, USA's own Ken Jurkowski taking second, and defending world champion Ondrej Synek crossing the line in the third position. In the first ever women's Gold Cup race, Mirka Knapkova took first place, in what was truly an elite, international field.
Congrats to all involved!