Thursday, June 30, 2011

On the Water with Matt Miller, Part VII: Round Two

UVa men's eight launches - alongside a notable pair (Photo: Allen Miller)
Update from Henley-on-Thames: Round two is now done, and the UVa men have delivered another strong performance, though the four has been knocked out by a strong Durham crew. The eight had a solid race against a tough Oxford Brookes entry – conditions are always variable at Henley, and Brookes handled the changing winds and wakes very well, hanging on throughout the race. Here's Matt's view on the racing from within the UVa eight:

UVa engine room (Photo: Allen Miller)
The competition certainly improves after the first round. Frank warned the eight today that the 2006 champions, Oxford Brookes University, would go out hard. We had a good start, but they were right with us through the end of the island. By the barrier, our flow and rhythm at base-rate had gained us half a boat. A big move put us a length ahead, and we would hold that margin to the line. It was not a particularly good row for us because we did not handle the chop well. I was impressed by Oxford Brookes, pushing us over and over through wakes and changing winds. We’ll look to establish a more sustainable swing tomorrow against University of London.

Theresa Tratensek coxes the UVa men's four (Photo: Allen Miller)
The four had an eventful, yet disappointing day. Last night, the four’s stroke seat, Jon Byington, was sick with a fever, so the team called on spare, Matt Parker, to fill in. Parker is a port taking Byington’s starboard spot, so the boat shuffled Lane Cobb from port to starboard and Ted Wyeth to stroke seat. They were rowing well for this morning’s paddle, but Durham’s very impressive, stacked four was too much for them to handle this afternoon. There are mixed emotions over the end of collegiate rowing for three recent graduates in that boat. They have advanced as far as any past Virginia eight had. -MM

Congratulations to the four for a quality showing this year. The standard at the event is very high, and the five-day schedule (one of the longest regattas in the world), can take its toll, in addition to the other logistical questions for foreign crews. Durham won the event, then called the 'Men's Student Coxed Fours,' in 2005. The UVa men's four can hold their heads high for a strong performance, battling well through adversity.

More to come tomorrow from Henley, as UVa takes on UL in Round Three of the Temple Challenge Cup. Special thanks again to Allen Miller for the photography!

-RR

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

OTW with Matt Miller, Part VI: Henley, Round One

The UVa 4+ takes off in Henley (Photo: Allen Miller)
Update from Henley-on-Thames: The UVa men's eight and men's four have both won their first round match-ups in the Temple and Prince Albert, respectively, and will be looking to build on their new racing experience on the course tomorrow. The timetable has just been released for tomorrow's racing, and can be found here. Below, Matt shares his thoughts on UVa's performance:

Races at Henley are everything I was promised and more. The crowds were already noticeable for our 7 AM warm up row, both in the number of visitors and unusual fashion. After one lap of the course in the morning, we went home for a quick breakfast, and back to the course to watch the varsity four’s race. Because the Steward’s Enclosure has a strict dress code, the varsity eight watched from the downstream enclosure. Our four took control early with a ¾ length lead, and sustained that margin for the remainder of the race. University of London made moves, but our guys countered.

The UVa VIII off the start on the Thames (Photo: Allen Miller)
The race strategy in the eight reflected the number of large victories we had already seen Wednesday; race to the barrier and reevaluate there. Our start put East Anglia down by a length, and we had enough room by the barrier to begin bringing the rate down. The base of the race was comfortable and smooth. We eventually dropped the rate to 28. After hearing shouting and cheering for 1600m, I was surprised by calm clapping for the final 500m through the enclosures. The race was a great introduction to the regatta, and calmed my nerves.

After lunch, many of us put on coat and tie to return to course. I thought the piping on our blazers made them loud, but they are nothing in comparison to bold stripes in every color on the chest and sleeves of spectators in the Steward’s Enclosure. Women’s hats provided great entertainment during breaks. Notable races included Harvard ‘A’ vs. Harvard ‘B’ in the four, Hobart over Southampton University and Oxford Brookes (our opponent tomorrow) over University College London in the eight.

Thursday will be strictly business. The four faces Durham University at 12:10. Again, they are expecting a close race from start to finish. Our race is at 3:35 and will be much different than our experience today. Oxford Brookes University had a dominating performance Wednesday and will be a tough opponent.-MM

Thanks again to Allen Miller for the great shots of the racing. More to come as the next round looms – great racing today, a solid performance across the board, but now time to rest, relax, and refocus.

-RR

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Henley Royal Regatta, 2011: RR Picks and Predictions

'There is nothing quite so comforting as a panel of experts.' (Photo: K. Kitch)
As promised, below are our picks and predictions for this year's HRR, with special thanks to an 'unnamed source.' And so, without further ado...

Elite events:

The elite events will feature several battles between very strong crews from Australia and Great Britain. The GB crews will be very keen to make a statement after sitting out World Cup II (due to E. coli fears in Hamburg), and the Aussies will look to set the tone for Lucern and Worlds later this summer in Slovenia. Keep an eye on Chula Vista Training Center (US National Team) in the Stewards' Challenge Cup. In the Double Sculls, we can't see anything other than a showdown between the top seeds – the 2008 Olympic Champions Crawshay and Brennan of Australia, and the 'Red Express' duo of Wells and Bateman. In the Queen Mother, the Croatians are obviously clear favorites, while Princeton Training Center (US National Team) in the Remenham are surely going to have too much for anyone else.

Intermediate Events:

Ladies' Challenge Plate

In our view, Harvard are the clear favorites. The Leander crews lack the speed they've shown in year's past – only a length and a bit quicker than the top Thames Cup crews. Harvard could take the event by over a length of clear water if they feel like it.

Visitors' Challenge Cup

The entries for the Visitors are a bit down as well, but at least there are two standout crews in the Leander/IC Composite and the Oxford Brookes/Molesey BC entries that should make a fantastic semifinal (where the two must meet, with Leander/IC not having been selected by the Stewards this year, despite winning last year). We are picking the Leander/IC composite (reigning U23 LM4- champions) to retain the trophy, especially if the conditions remain relatively flat.

We are taking Leander to win the Prince of Wales, as it looks to be ¾ of the guys who won last year, GB U23 M4X representatives.

Student (Collegiate) Events:

Temple Challenge Cup

Both Harvard and Yale's entries (Yale won the lightweight eight event at IRAs this year, while Harvard's heavy frosh took third behind Cal and Washington in New Jersey) will be extremely strong, but California have gotten quicker and quicker and given the conditions expected, we are picking them to come out on top over the Crimson and the Bulldogs (in a very strange draw, all of them are on the same side of the bracket). Harvard have strengthened their frosh eight with guys from the 2V and 3V we hear – Jack Morrissey would have been in the Molesey Thames Cup eight otherwise – but we think they have too much to do to catch the Golden Bears, who are undefeated this season. On the other side of the bracket, we are looking for Matt Miller and the UVa men to have a strong showing, making it to Friday or Saturday along with Queen's University Belfast). A. S. R. Nereus showed good speed at Holland Beker last weekend and will be carrying that momentum into Henley – look for a showdown between A. S. R. Nereus and California in the final.

Prince Albert

All the top British Unis have run here as usual. Brookes have had the edge over Newcastle in the past two regattas, but given the nous of coach Angelo Savarino at Newcastle and the calibre of athletes in the crew, we're tempted to pick them to overcome Brookes at the big one.

Club Events:

Thames Cup 

1) Thames RC - Big favorites. A huge squad that has pushed each other all year, club invested huge amounts in telemetry last year (a dangerous precedent for club rowing) with numerous combinations tested throughout the season, but have held the same crew since Wallingford. We will be very surprised if they throw it away.
2) Star – Dark horse no. 1. A small squad who finished well at the Head of the River – beat Thames in the heats on the Sunday of Met by 1 second – Thames overturned the margin to the same extent in the final. Have been on training camp since, didn’t race Marlow.
3) Molesey – Dark horse no. 2. They raced the eight on the Saturday at Met with two ineligible guys in place of the two 'Gruntie Freshmen' they knew they were getting back post IRAs. Times from the heat were extremely close before 4 of the guys doubled into the 4+ and two others were in a 4- . They were then dropped by Thames after 750m in the final. They've decided to race the Thames even though the crew will be completely untested against any of its opposition. Big inclusion is Rowley Douglas in the coxswain’s seat, Olympic champion from Sydney 2000. A brief video of the crew paddling shows his influence already, but it will be interesting to see if this style can translate to boat speed in a club standard crew given the short amount of time he has had to work with them.
4) Upper Yarra – The big controversy. This crew is coached by Alex Henshilwood, he of the Eton College triple winning crews of 2009 and 2010 (as well as Pangbourne in 2003). Henshilwood moved to Melbourne last summer to coach MUBC – Upper Yarra is just a badge of convenience. MUBC is an open club, but its not sure how many of the crew are actually students. Still, the Stewards have approved the entry so it looks like they’ll be lining up alongside Temple Island on Wednesday. Henshilwood knows the standard and would not come all this way unless he thought they had a shot. We will see…

Wyfold

London RC's to lose – they have been impressive in last two Dorney regattas, about 7 seconds behind the standard in the Visitors. Can’t see any domestic challengers, only interest could be the Antipodeans, but it’s thought that the strongest guys from Banks RC are in their Brit entry.

Britannia

The real turn up this year has been the quality entries from abroad in what is seen as the least prestigious event in the entire regatta. London RC are well ahead of any of their domestic rivals but are faced with Banks RC, Australian national champions, a crew from the great Mercantile RC who warmed up at the Amsterdam International this weekend, and finally an unknown entry from Hamburg. London definitely have the horsepower required for the event this year, but will the two Australian crews have the edge?

So there we have it, as best we can make it out given the huge number of entries, and the ever-unpredictable nature of head-to-head racing. It promises, as always, to be a great regatta, and we'll be watching with suitable interest from California and the Henley towpath.

-RR

OTW with Matt Miller, Part V: The Draw

UVa at Henley abode (Photo: Allen Miller)
The latest installment in our OTW series – Matt catches us up on The Draw and the weekend in Henley, as UVa prepares to race tomorrow:

The Draw is out, and it feels like a complete reversal of luck from a Spring season with unfortunate circumstances and races we believe did not show our full potential. The stewards were obviously impressed by our ACRA results; beating the Dad Vail champions at our last regatta earned us a spot in the top eight seeded crews. The team watched intently from a crowded, hot town hall in the heart of Henley as stewards drew names from a cup. Somehow the other seeded American crews (Harvard, Yale and California) all appeared on the other side of the bracket, leaving us on the bottom against some undoubtedly fast unknown European talent. Even FIT, a team I expected to be seeded, is in the top-half of the bracket. The eight faces East Anglia at 11:35 AM on Wednesday.

The four will face the University of London in their first race at 10:50. In addition to being unfamiliar with European crews, the four has no race results in the United States on which to base their speed. They seem content with their seeding. If they win on Wednesday they’ll face Durham, a seeded crew, on Thursday. The Harvard vs. Harvard race on Wednesday is an unfortunate matchup, but one I’ll be sure to watch.

UVa eight on the water (Photo: Allen Miller)
Even though much is made of matchups, it’s obvious that the best team will win in the end. If we make a mistake or have a bad race, everything is meaningless. From what I’ve gathered, at Henley, the victors get all the spoils. There are no points for 2nd place, because the team that loses Sunday may or may not be the 2nd fastest team. Both Virginia boats will be taking races one at a time, keeping in mind it’s always ‘lose or go home.’

Early Monday morning, the eight raced Leander’s ‘A’ boat from the start to the barrier under perfect conditions. It was a fast piece for both crews, again providing valuable experience in racing conditions. After practice, the team had an additional weigh-in on official regatta scales. The weights seemed identical to submitted information.

UVa visits Warwick Castle (Photo: Allen Miller)
The team continues to soak in their surroundings during free time. Parents are rolling into town, and now join us on outings. On Sunday, many traveled to Oxford to see the town, school and their version of boathouse row. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in finding the official Oxford boathouse, which I’ve heard, like their reputation for boat speed, is quite impressive. Monday’s destination was Warwick Castle, about 90 minutes north of Henley. I was pleased to find more than just an old castle. Exhibits featured a working trebuchet, falconry, wax figures, social history, art, armor and archery. The team returned to Henley just in time for a reception for all overseas competitors at the River and Rowing Museum along the Thames. We showed up in our blazers, and got a preview of the blazers we’ll see around the steward’s enclosure starting Wednesday. Neil Donaldson spoke on composure and the thrill of racing at Henley Royal.

Glassy water, hot weather as HRR approaches (Photo: Matt Miller)
With the jump in Henley population we’ve already witnessed, I can’t imagine the buzz next weekend. The team was joined in our house Monday by the rowers of the Australian men’s eight. As is true at our Virginia boathouse, we love being surrounded by elite level rowers. They face tough competition in their first race: England. After a full week here, we’re ready to race and watch racing. Wednesday cannot come soon enough. -MM

Later today: RR Picks and Predictions for HRR 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

Video of the Week: Golden Blades of St. Petersburg



This week's video comes to us thanks to FISA's coverage of the first ever Golden Blades Regatta in St. Petersburg, Russia. The races were held in the heart of the city, and were 250m in length -- a very short sprint, which made the most of the event's prime location and viewing potential. The event was loaded with international talent, including a German men's eight (possibly their U23s?) and a women's eight from Canada, along with some big names in the men's 1x (Mahe Drysdale, Luka Spik) and women's 1x (Frida Svensson, Mirka Knapkova). The video includes interviews with several of the athletes as well as nice shots of the venue and the racing. This year marked the first running of the event, which FISA would like to become an annual regatta in St. Petersburg. For more, visit the official website of World Rowing.

Note for FeedBurner subscribers: Click the title of the article to view the video on our website.

This is Henley week, so upcoming is an article with some picks and predictions, courtesy of an 'unnamed source' – suffice it to say that we know some people with keen eyes strolling along the Henley towpath, perhaps even at this very moment.

Want to suggest the next 'Video of the Week?' Shoot us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com, or send us your suggestion via Twitter (twitter.com/rowingrelated).

Check back soon for our take on Henley Royal!

-RR

Friday, June 24, 2011

OTW with Matt Miller, Part IV: Qualifying the Four – Update from Henley

The boat tents at Henley, from the bridge (Photo: Matt Miller)
Good news for Virginia from Henley, as the four has successfully qualified for the Prince Albert Challenge Cup, following their time trial earlier today. While the four had other concerns, Matt and the eight were training both on land and on the water. Here's Matt's update from the shores of the Thames:

There are new faces around the boat tents and on the course every day as we approach dual races starting Wednesday. Friday was a taste of official racing for the qualifying time trials. The eight practiced twice as part of the training program, while the four went out for a course walk-through in preparation for their 5:07 PM time trial.

The UVa men's four after qualifying (Photo: Matt Miller)
A very kind Virginia Tech grad with a house overlooking the finishing area and docks introduced himself earlier in the week. So far from home, traditional sports rivalries are forgotten and fellow Virginians are close friends. Today he invited the eight to watch the qualifying races from his second story balcony. Members of the eight watched with a great view of the varsity four’s commanding performance. They passed University of London’s ‘B’ boat in the first 1000m and successfully navigated swirling winds on their way to qualifying for the event. Virginia was the last of six alphabetically-listed qualifiers to be announced; a result that sent 19 other crews home. The race left some room for improvement and areas of focus for the next few days, but the boat was generally excited to have extended their season by at least five days.

The UVa eight trains on land near the boat tents (Photo: Matt Miller)
Afterward, both boats met at Leander Club for a BBQ dinner of hamburgers, chicken, sausage and pork. The Leander guys I’ve seen on the Thames all week look even bigger in person. They left me feeling short. After seeing Matthew Pinsent and Steve Redgrave around the boat tents Friday, I wonder whether one of these Leander rowers is the next big star of the rowing world. -MM

The UVa men will continue to train through the weekend, and get more familiar with the course and the landmarks. One thing that can be tricky at Henley, especially in your first experience of the regatta, is learning where you are on the course well enough to manage your moves and physiology to the best of your ability. While names like 'The Barrier' conjure up grandiose images, 'The Barrier' itself is actually glorified dividing wall, roughly four feet in height, which can be easy to miss from the boat. However, on such a long course (2112 'metres' to be exact), it pays to know where you are. Head Coach Frank Biller and the UVa squad will have this in mind as the Cavs take to the water over the final days of preparation.

Upcoming: RR Picks and Predictions for Henley Royal Regatta

-RR

Thursday, June 23, 2011

OTW with Matt Miller, Part III: First Impressions, Henley and London

Causing a stir in South Kensington (Photo: Matt Miller)
Matt and the UVa boys have arrived in England, and are now training at the course as the boat tents begin to fill up and crews from all over the world come pouring into the little town of Henley-on-Thames. Miller describes a little bit of the work they have been doing on the water, and gives a sense of the atmosphere around the regatta venue in the days immediately prior to the event. In addition to training, the UVa squad has enjoyed a trip to London, which they finished off with dinner at the London Rowing Club (my former home away from home) on the Putney Embankment. Here's what Matt has to say:

Apart from long lines at Dulles Airport, travel to our new home in Henley was uneventful. The red-eye put us into Heathrow around 8:00 AM Monday, and immediately there were a number of adjustments to be made to our new surroundings. We anticipated the exchange rate from dollars to pounds, but were surprised by prices, particularly food prices. In most cases, $3 of food in the US costs £3 here. I’m just glad not to be paying for gas!

UVa with CUBC oars, near the Angel on the Bridge (Photo: Matt Miller)
For me, the jet lag wasn’t bad; I slept better than most on the plane. Some of my teammates spent the afternoon napping, but we all rallied Late in the afternoon to make a trip to the course for our first practice in England. The Cambridge oars we will be using were delivered to our house, so we had an interesting walk through the streets of Henley with twelve sweep oars, much to the amusement of several passers by. We spent hours assembling and rigging two brand new Hudson boats to the specific rig of our boats back in the states (an 8+ and 4+).

The course and surrounding areas are unreal. All grassy areas are maintained like putting greens, and the boat tents and locker rooms are better than most permanent collegiate rowing facilities. Even the grass under the boat tents feels like a golf course. It’s hard to believe that the area is a field the rest of the year. The river has been particularly windy the past few days, but otherwise I love the weather, with highs in the 60s (F) making for great training weather. Unfortunately, the narrow waterway is starting to get crowded as more teams show up for Friday’s time trials or the main event next Wednesday.

Practices have generally been short. The V8 is adjusting to high rates in a headwind, while the V4 begins to taper for their Friday time trial. Pieces against other crews have broken the monotony of laps of the course on our own. Tuesday afternoon, Leander asked the V8 to provide competition for a 40 stroke start. On Wednesday morning, the V8 raced another Leander boat in 2x750m pieces. Both were a reminder of the high expectations and fierce competition of European rowing. The V4 got their own competition in three 500m pieces against Brown’s women’s eight. Both crews looked good, and our four feels prepared to qualify Friday afternoon for races next week.

London Rowing Club (Photo: Matt Miller)
The excitement of Wednesday morning pieces was only the beginning. The team took buses into London just after practice for some sightseeing. The team split into groups to see the Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, London Eye, Harrods, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. The night ended with a dinner at London Rowing Club in Putney. It was great to meet the LRC coaches and rowers, some of whom are Olympians. Virginia will be cheering for them as they race in the Wyfold, Visitors, Thames, and Britannia Challenge Cup events. The team will continue sightseeing on Monday as the team visits Warwick Castle. -MM

The Henley Qualifying Races take place tomorrow, so the UVa men will get their first test and taste of racing on the course in the time trials. We wish them the best of luck and look forward to more news from the Thames!

Upcoming: RR Picks and Predictions for Henley Royal Regatta, and Championship Regattas and Automatic Qualifiers – Potential Pitfalls 

-RR

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

From the RR Newsroom: Cal Bestows Hall of Fame Service Award on Jill Costello

It was announced today that former Cal coxswain and Pac-10 Champion Jill Costello is the most recent recipient of the Hall of Fame Service Award for her efforts to raise awareness and funding for research for lung cancer. Her legacy is stronger than ever, as the work that she started with the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation continues in her honor, having already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through the 'Jog for Jill' series. The next events in the 5K 'Jog for Jill' series will be held at Tulsa University (9/18/2011) and Cornell University (9/25/2011), with an event in October as well, hosted by the University of Washington. For more information, read the full press release from RowingNews.com and CalBears.com, and visit jillslegacy.org.

Monday, June 20, 2011

US Women's Lightweight Double Wins Event at Samsung World Rowing Cup II

The first international gold medal for the US in 2011 comes from the duo of Kristin Hedstrom and Julie Nichols, who fought off a strong push from the Germans to take the race in Hamburg over the weekend. The commentary from the race video was, well, amusing, but ultimately complimentary of the US crew that finished third in Munich behind two crews from Great Britain. In the men's single, Ken Jurkowski battled his way onto the podium in Hamburg, throwing down a furious sprint and taking the bronze medal despite crossing into the final 500m in fifth place. The race video was largely an extended cut of Mahe Drysdale rowing by himself in first place, though the commentators did notice Jurkowski as he crossed the line in third, and acknowledged his performance (which has sealed up his place on the US National Team for the 2011 Senior World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia).

Want to suggest the next 'Video of the Week?' Shoot us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com, or send us your suggestion via Twitter (twitter.com/rowingrelated).

-RR

Sunday, June 19, 2011

OTW with Matt Miller, Part II: Blazer up!

Thursday night send-off at the Boathouse Grille (Photo: Clem Bezold)
Since this post, Matt has packed his bags and taken off for London along with the rest of the Cavaliers, pictured above (they will be racing an eight and a four, in the Temple Challenge Cup and the Prince Albert Challenge Cup, respectively). Once in England they will look to get settled in and resume their training as quickly as possible prior to beginning the taper for Henley Royal, which starts on June 29th, and runs through July 3rd. While this is certainly an exciting prospect, the last few days of practice have been bittersweet for Miller, who graduated this year and whose last strokes as a Virginia oarsman will come at Henley. Here's the second installment from Matt:

Preparations are making the Henley trip feel more real by the day. The first adjustment to history and tradition was in converting weights to stones for roster submission. It had been a while since the last weigh-in (last erg testing week) and many were pleasantly surprised to be leaner and lighter—results of tough workouts in Virginia heat.

That task was followed closely by the highlight of the week last Friday: distribution of Henley jackets. We were unsure at first whether orange piping would be worth the added cost, but it was well worth it! The jackets turned out perfectly with the team logo embroidered on the left pocket, deep orange piping and custom fit. 
The next Thursday marked the arrival of another key component of Henley attire, our orange team polo shirts. Thanks to our team sponsor, B.W. Furlong & Associates, and the work of team manager Kyle Davis, they came in looking great. That night represented the first chance for us to sport the new jackets and polos at a team send-off reception, appropriately held at Charlottesville’s Boathouse Grille. The event was a chance for alumni, board members, local paralympic rowers, parents, women’s team rowers, and members of the Rivanna Rowing Club to chat over hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Many of these guests support the team financially, and all follow the team’s results. In addition to providing a forum for meeting the rowers who will be representing Virginia in England, the night showed the team’s appreciation for the encouragement and generosity of our rowing community. 
The team has thankfully avoided injury during tough training, but the newest member of the eight, Ben Hammond, was diagnosed with strep throat on Wednesday. Despite this temporary loss, training continues. After near death by boredom during 22k steady state rows, workouts are becoming more “peppy” as Frank would say, as we translate drills and low rate technique work to intermediate rates at high intensity. Both boats have benefited from the perspective of Virginia women’s rowing head coach, Kevin Sauer, in two guest-coaching sessions.

The team was on the erg for the first time in nearly a month on Friday afternoon for 20 minutes of firm steady state. Some found the work easy and others greatly surpassed target splits. Apparently the team’s physiology has continued to improve over the last month.

Packing for Sunday’s departure is the next step. It will be a challenge to foresee everything we’ll need for two and half weeks, but Frank has provided us with a handy packing list. It’s great to have a coach with so much international travel (and coaching) experience.

Saturday was my last day as a Charlottesville resident. I am excited to be headed to Henley and entering a new stage of my life, but I leave Charlottesville with mixed emotions. I’ve built my closest friendships in thousands of hours at that boathouse. My last row on the Rivanna Reservoir felt normal until I walked the boat up the hill, realizing it would be the last time. Despite painful practices and early mornings, I have nothing but fond memories of Virginia and rowing. -MM

More from Matt when the Cavs begin their training across the pond, making final preparations for Henley at the regatta venue.

-RR

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Series: 'On the Water' with Matt Miller – UVa To Compete at Henley Royal Regatta

Matt Miller and the UVa Seniors 'support' Frank Biller (Photo: Allen Miller)
Introducing a new series called On the Water, which will take a behind-the-scenes look from an athlete's (or coach's) perspective into training and racing, and what it takes to be the best. In our first installment, we go OTW with Matt Miller from the University of Virginia as ACRA Coach of the Year Frank Biller prepares his crew for the international stage at Henley Royal Regatta. Matt will keep us posted on how the training is progressing, what the experience of going to Henley is like for US collegiate athletes, and how they're racing is going as we move into the regatta. Here's the first update from the man himself:

As would be expected, spirits were high after returning to Charlottesville from ACRAs. The team took a few days off to rest and recover before Henley selections. This was a big change from daily schedules dictated by rowing. Much of the team went home to visit family before Henley training or for the summer to start jobs and internships. Those who remained in Charlottesville greeted the women’s rowing team as they returned from NCAAs and had a relaxing afternoon at a swimming hole in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

During summer months, athletes represent a higher proportion of the student population in Charlottesville. Though the men’s rowing team is not a varsity sport, we enjoy following the successes of Virginia athletics, and there have been many of late. Just after returning from ACRAs, we watched in a local bar as the lacrosse team won an NCAA championship. Last Friday Robby Andrews went from last to first to take the 800m NCAA outdoor track title, and on Monday the baseball team rallied with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to advance to the College World Series. Very exciting times indeed here in Charlottesville.

Henley selections for the eight and four began with 15 rowers (11 varsity, 4 novice) and two coxswains. Time trials and lineup switches were the norm for the first few days. The eight is now set and, with the addition of a novice, appears to be surpassing its ACRA boat speed. Selections continue for what is shaping up to be a very competitive four, which has, at times, beaten fours of V8 rowers.

Frank has the team working hard in two-a-days that often also include a lifting circuit. The team was forced inside for long cardio work on two afternoons last week as the heat index topped 100°F. Stretching, varying training difficulties and periods of rest have kept the team injury free.

Back to “eat, sleep, row.” But with Henley on the horizon, the work is well worth it. -MM
The UVa men have just two more days before they take off for England, where they'll look to acclimate themselves to Greenwich Mean Time, British weather, and Henley banter. More to come from Charlottesville. 

-RR

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

USRowing Youth Nationals: Marin Men Cap off Undefeated Season with Double Championship

The USRowing Youth National Championships took place over the weekend in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the Marin men, whom we picked to win it all in this article from November, 2010, did just that, by open water over the field. In talking with Marin men's head coach Graham Willoughby after the racing was done, he mentioned that this was the first time that a team who had won the Head of the Charles has gone on to win the title in the men's eight at Youth Nationals. The only crew that might have made things intersting, St. Andrew's, was relegated to the petites after their boat came in under weight following the semis (though given the times in the semifinals, Marin was still on pace to take first by a solid margin). St. Andrew's will look to bounce back from this frustration at Henley Royal Regatta, which begins at the end of this month.

Marin's achievement also marked the first time that a single club has won the women's eight, men's eight, and men's lightweight eight at the same regatta. Needless to say, Sandy Armstrong was pretty pleased with her girls as well, as they avenged last year's loss to Connecticut Boat Club by over a length. The fought very well through a tough progression, and attacked the final with obvious hunger, forcing others to react – no one had an answer for the Marin move. While this might have been a surprise to some, no one predicted that James Madison would push CBC into third place. The James Madison crew, coached by Paul Allbright, held off last year's champion for the silver in what was James Madison's fourth 2000m race to date (being that JM is a scholastic program, they are accustomed to racing 1500m). Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this performance is the youth of the Madison team – the eight that took silver featured three sophomores and a freshman.

Speaking of freshmen, the Marin men's lightweight eight, coached by Patrick Schulkers, featured three of them, and was almost an entirely new lineup to the one that won at the Southwest Junior Regionals in May. Not only that, but five of the rowers were novices, including stroke Michael Brewer (a frosh novice, in fact). The coxswain, Riley Overfield, was also a freshman novice. The most experienced oarsman in the lineup, Tyler Browne (a decorated third year rower), had to be replaced due to injury by another freshman novice Daniel Nagler. Still, not only did they get it done, they progressed through the regatta without a margin smaller than a length. The battle for second place was between last year's winner, Marina AC, and Canisius HS – CHS edged MAC (who had graduated three of last year's eight, according to head coach Craig Webster) by roughly a seat to take the silver.

The fact is, the Southwest region in junior rowing dominated the sweep events in 2011. While the obvious big dog was Marin, Marina AC medaled in the men's lightweight eight (bronze) and women's four (silver), while Oakland Strokes took home the gold medal by open water in the men's four, as well as silver in the women's lightweight eight.

In the sculling events, new arrival Seattle Rowing Center, coached by US Olympian Conal Groom, burst onto the scene, taking the gold medal in the men's lightweight double, as well as the bronze in the women's double. GMS, led by head coach Günter Beutter, took home the gold in both the men's double and the women's quad – Beutter also coaches the US men's senior lightweight double, and brought a very well prepared team to the course in Oak Ridge last weekend. Also, in Nick D'Antoni's first season as head coach of the Long Beach Junior men, the team narrowly missed a medal in the men's double, and took 7th overall in the quad. Another standout performance came from the New Canaan squad, coached Yan Vengerovskiy. New Canaan won the men's quad over a talented Malvern Prep crew and finished 2nd in the men's lightweight four.

For multimedia race coverage that includes photos as well as links to new video interviews with Conal Groom, Sandy Armstrong, Graham Willoughby, Günter Beutter,  Liz Trond, and Paul Allbright, check out the coverage by Bryan on the official website of Rowing News magazine.

-RR

Monday, June 13, 2011

VOTW: Men's Lightweight Eight Grand Final at the 2011 IRA Regatta



This week's video comes to us from Camden, New Jersey, and features one of the closest races in the history of the IRA Regatta. Harvard entered the race ranked No. 1 overall, and had just capped off an undefeated regular season with wins at the Harvard-Yale-Princeton regatta (HYPs) and Eastern Sprints. Yale was clearly increasing its speed as the season progressed, though perhaps no one but Andy Card could have seen this result coming. The Bulldogs made the most of their gains in the IRA grand final, edging the Crimson into second place by roughly one foot (0.02 seconds). Thanks again to Princeton for their excellent coverage of the championship circuit this Spring, picking up where Captured Speed left off in years past.

Note for FeedBurner subscribers: Click the title of the article to view the video on our website.

Want to suggest the next 'Video of the Week?' Send us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com.

Friday, June 10, 2011

RR Interview: Mid-Atlantic Erg Sprints and ACRA Champion Matt Miller of Virginia

UVa V8 Trains on Rivanna Reservoir (Photo © Jenny Moloney)
Matt Miller is not your average collegiate club rower. He first got our attention in January, when he dominated the Mid-Atlantic Erg Sprints, taking first place in 5:54.7 – a time that would have earned him a medal at the 2011 Crash-B World Indoor Rowing Championships. Since that time, Matt and UVa have continued to develop and improve, under the guidance of head coach Frank Biller, who is, by all accounts, a master organizer. This Spring, after a fourth place finish in the varsity eight at Dad Vails, the Virginia men capped off their season with a first-ever victory over Michigan at the 2011 ACRA National Championship in Gainesville, Georgia. Now, Matt and the Cavaliers are looking to build on that success internationally at Henley Royal Regatta later this month. Here, Matt catches up with us about his time training and studying at UVa, his team's success, and his plans for Summer 2011.

RR: What is your background in athletics? How did you hear about the sport of rowing, and what drew you to it? When did it become apparent that you might have real potential in the sport?

MM: As a kid, I loved sports and played soccer, baseball and basketball from a young age. In running, pitching and rebounding, my height gave me a natural advantage. In middle school, that advantage vanished as others grew and I adjusted to an average height and below average weight. In my final soccer season, a teammate with an older brother on the high school rowing team suggested I try rowing. He would later become my 1F and 1V coxswain. We both signed up for a learn-to-row program in the fall of our freshman year.

Although the pure competition of racing immediately appealed to me, friendships kept me in the sport that first year. I was not significantly faster than my teammates (my first 2k was 7:43) and we rarely won. The work-reward relationship is a lesson that came with time, but an aspect of the sport I still love. I wanted to make the 1V my sophomore year, and work over the summer got me there. I guess that was my first glimpse of “potential.” In the time since then, I’ve been blessed by a growing body, good health and great people to help me along the way.

RR: How have you balanced your athletic schedule with academics? Have you found that one provides relief from the other?

MM: Time management is something I, like many athletes, was forced to learn in high school. I realized the limited time for schoolwork had to be used efficiently, and rowing has certainly helped with that efficiency. My classmates burn out from studying, but I’m happy to sit and use my mind rather than muscles. Conversely, a 6:00 AM row is a great jumpstart to the day. I would say sleep management is a bigger challenge than finding time to complete work; staying awake in afternoon classes can be difficult.

RR: How would you describe your experience of rowing at UVa? What is it about the program that fosters competition and success? Does a positive relationship with the women's team help to build that culture throughout the boathouse?

MM: My UVa rowing experience has been most defined by great people. Frank Biller and Erich Shuler (men’s novice coach) have implemented a “good to great” mentality that has raised the bar for success and the team has responded. The rowers are all very different in terms of personality and interests, but united in their drive to succeed. I have never before been surrounded by teammates who work harder.

There is no doubt that we benefit from the culture and success of the women’s team. Their 2010 NCAA team championship created a winning atmosphere that partially contributed to our drive to succeed this season. Kevin Sauer is heavily invested in our success and generous with sharing equipment and facilities. During winter training, Wednesdays were “cardio party” days of 5x20 minute stations in mixed groups of men, women, novice and varsity. There are many friendships between the teams and I have great respect for the women and their work ethic. They are obviously some of the best in the nation.

UVa varsity eight, Miller at top right (Photo courtesy of Allen Miller)
RR: At the outset of this season, what were your stated goals? Was winning ACRAs something that became a clear possibility as the team progressed through Winter training? Or was it something that you set out to do from day one?

MM: Our goal in August was to win all of our spring races. We agreed our goals must be realistic, so we set erg standards and on the water milestones to get us there. There was no real “leap” in physiology over winter training in which we realized our potential. It was a slow, calculated improvement as part of the training plan. There were days of extreme optimism as we recognized our physiological improvements, and days of pessimism after struggling to complete a tough workout. As the spring season progressed, Frank raised the expectations for water time trials, and boats met those challenges. Winning ACRAs always seemed like a possibility, but became much more realistic as we got closer to race day.

RR: At Dad Vails, you and your squad faced some very difficult challenges in the heat and semi before even getting to the final. In addition to those issues, your team was also dealing with illnesses. In light of the above, do you feel that you underachieved in the varsity eight in Philadelphia? Did you feel confident that you could win entering ACRAs?

MM: In light of recent results, it’s hard to say we performed to our potential at Dad Vails, but I would not say we let ourselves down. Illnesses really developed in the days just before SIRAs, leaving some (including myself) recovering for the next two weeks. This had the unfortunate effect of disrupting the training program, creating a rush to prepare for the Schuylkill. Everyone was healthy in Philadelphia and we executed the race plan, but the team-wide sickness had already taken its toll.

The large margin to Michigan despite a well-rowed race at Vails left our team very discouraged. There were tense moments on the water in the days that followed as we discussed strategies for catching Michigan at ACRAs. We made some changes, and ultimately harnessed that negative energy into boat speed. Confidence grew as we consistently posted the fastest times of the season in the days leading up to ACRAs. That confidence got a boost from cleanly beating U of M in the semifinals.

UVa on the awards dock, Miller at center (Photo courtesy of Allen Miller)
RR: How did it feel to accomplish something that no club has ever done in the brief history of the ACRA Championships, in defeating the Wolverines?

MM: There were many mixed emotions, but in a word, amazing. I had never before won a championship race. It was also the closest wire-to-wire race I’ve ever experienced and my last intercollegiate race. My teammates and I have been working towards this for four years now. I have deep respect for those Michigan guys. They are very fast year after year, so beating them is a real accomplishment.

RR: Building on the last question, your season is not over yet. You are gearing up to head over to England this June/July for Henley, and I know that your coach will be preparing you well for that. Does that mean that the tapers for both Dad Vails and ACRAs were relatively slight, as you continue to build toward the centerpiece this summer?

MM: I don’t know that Henley is prioritized over Dad Vails or ACRAs. Our training for those races was to produce the fastest possible races, and Henley will be no different. I see Henley as a rewarding opportunity after years of hard work. It’s a once in a lifetime experience to prove ourselves against teams we would not otherwise face. I really don’t know what to expect in terms of the speed of our competition. We’ll have to take it one race at a time. Winning there may be more exciting than winning ACRAs, but no win will be as satisfying.

RR: At both Dad Vails and ACRAs, the freshman team and the second varsity eight turned in very strong performances as well. How has coach Biller gone about creating an environment that is competitive from top to bottom?

MM: As I mentioned, Frank and Erich have really embraced going from “good to great.” They are different in coaching style and personality, but work together fabulously to recruit novice walk-ons and prepare them for varsity. This is Erich’s second great recruiting class, and the varsity team will certainly benefit from their addition next fall. Some (now former) novices will be competing with the team at Henley.

The second varsity’s win at Dad Vails was a great morale boost for the whole team. They are very driven, and provide great competition for the varsity eight at practice. My fourth-year friend and stroke seat of that boat, Ted Wyeth, has always said “if a 2v rows like a 1v, they’ll win.” I think they proved his point in Philly.

RR: Given your outstanding personal performance at the Mid-Atlantic Erg Sprints, what are your plans for the summer following Henley?

Unfortunately, the timing of Henley prevents me from using my final year of U23 eligibility to enter a small boat in Under-23 trials. After some time off from Rowing, I’ll be joining a Potomac Boat Club (PBC) in Washington, D.C. I will be working in the D.C. area, and have heard great things about the coaches and rowers at PBC. One of their rowers, Williams Cowles, was a fierce competitor at the Mid-Atlantic Erg Sprints and I have been following his success at National Selection Regattas. I am hopeful for steady improvements that could put me in a position to train with the National Team down the road.

Thanks very much to Matt for taking the time, and thanks also to Jenny Moloney for contributing the title image. For more of Jenny's work, check out her website at jennymoloney.com.

-RR

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

2011 IRA Regatta: Huskies Dominate, but Harvard Favorite in 2012

Fantastic racing across the board at the IRA this past weekend despite less than ideal conditions, especially in the heats and semifinals. As was the case last year, there was some drama regarding the shuffling of line assignments. This caused quite a stir, and had many coaches wishing there were a better way. Despite some controversy through the rounds, we think it all sorted itself out in the end, and, as Cal Head Coach Mike Teti put it, "the best team won."

In the varsity eight, we saw some phenomenal racing and an impressive showcase of talent from athletes and coaches alike. After letting Harvard row through them in the Semifinal, the Washington varsity eight asserted themselves in the final, refusing to let anyone beat them when it matter most. A length behind Washington was a very tight battle between Harvard, Cal and Wisconsin for the final two medal spots. Harvard proved to be the best of the rest on the day, winning the silver medal .1 seconds ahead of the Cal varsity eight with a charging Wisconsin crew finishing .6 seconds behind Cal for fourth. This was where the contention about lane assignments surfaced, as Cal (the winner of the first semifinal) was originally supposed to be in lane 3, between Harvard and Washington, but was moved to lane 5 (away from their Pac-10 rivals) prior to the grand final due to 'weather considerations' on what was the calmest day at the race course all week. Brown and Princeton rounded out the final in what was a great race that saw every crew in the mix. Although we correctly picked Washington to win, and picked the right 6 crews to make the final, we didn't see Harvard winning the silver medal after racing four miles against Yale less than a week before racing began in Camden. Hats off to the Crimson!

In the 2V, the Washington Huskies completed their undefeated season, despite an impressive effort from Harvard. Although they didn't catch Washington, Harvard was the only crew to finish within a length of the Husky 2V all season. Those two crews were on another level. To put it in perspective, the third place Wisconsin Badgers finished almost 10 seconds behind Washington and 8 seconds behind Harvard. We predicted the medals right in this race and got 5 out of the 6 finalists with our 6th finalist Syracuse missing out on the final by just .6 seconds in the semifinal.

The Freshman eight was dominated by the Cal Bears who capped an impressive undefeated season and gave Wyatt Allen his first IRA gold medal as a member of the Cal coaching staff. There is clearly a lot of talent in that boat, including one or two walk-ons. Several of them will surely step right into the Cal varsity eight as sophomores. The race for silver saw the Washington frosh out-sprinted the Harvard frosh in a battle of two largely international crews. We predicted 5 of 6 finalists correctly in this race with Brown out-racing Navy in the semifinal to upset our prediction.

In the men's and women's lightweight eights we saw some tight racing and some upsets. Andy Card and his Yale lightweights defeated a more decorated Harvard lightweight eight that had defeated the Bulldogs just three weeks prior at the Eastern Sprints. This race was a barn burner that ended in a photo finish, ultimately revealing Yale as the winner's by just .02 seconds (roughly one foot). A feisty Dartmouth crew raced valiantly to pick up the bronze medal less than a length back of the winner, while a talented Princeton squad finish a distant and disappointing fifth.

The women's lightweight eight saw the defending champion Stanford crew do it again as they avenged significant early season loss to Princeton (our top pick for the event) by beating them by just less than a second to reclaim the national title. Wisconsin finished well back of Stanford and Princeton, but still found themselves in the medals.

The surprise of the weekend for us was the Stanford men's varsity eight who almost nipped the Wisconsin crew in the semifinal to give the Cardinal a spot in the final. That was the one shining moment for a crew that was relatively quiet all season despite having some pretty accomplished oarsmen in the boat. Kudos also to Princeton who quietly managed to qualify all of their boats for the Grand Finals. Greg Hughes seems to have them on the right track in his second year at the helm.

In the end, it was the Washington Huskies and their Head Coach Mike Callahan that won the day winning the open four and varsity four en route to the Ten Eyck Trophy. Callahan did everything right this season as he prepared his team to showcase their speed and depth at the IRA, winning every event except for the frosh eight, which they lost by just 2 seconds. The level of talent in the Conibear Shellhouse is nothing short of amazing, but credit also goes to the coaching staff for making sure everything was done right in order to not mess it up. Callahan moved two starboards up from his second varsity between the Pac-10 Championship and the IRA, after they narrowly defeated Cal on Lake Natoma. This looks like a move that might have salvaged the Varsity Challenge Cup title for the Huskies. The Husky varsity boats saw a bow ball finish ahead of them just one time all season (the semifinal in the varsity eight). Quite an impressive feat from the V8 all the way down to the V4.

While Washington was busy showcasing their dominant depth, Harry Parker and his talent-laden Harvard squad were also flexing their muscle, finishing in the medals in every event except for the Varsity 4. They had a total of just 5 Seniors among their 3 varsity eights this season (two in the V8, two in the 2V). Given all this, we are picking Harvard as the favorites to dominate in 2012, so watch out for the Crimson next season!

Coming soon: RR gives out its first round of awards for great performances during the 2010-2011 season. 

-The RR Editorial Staff

Monday, June 6, 2011

VOTW: Men's Varsity Eight Grand Final, ACRAs 2011



This week's VOTW comes to us thanks to the efforts of Michigan men's head coach Gregg Hartsuff and the ACRA regatta committee, and features a great race between the top club varsity eights in the country. Michigan and Virginia fight it out all the way down the course, while the rest of the field is left to battle for third place. 2011 Collegiate Lightweight Crash-B Champ Greg Flood, one of the captains of the Notre Dame varsity squad, helps the Irish gain a place on the podium, rounding out the medals with a best-ever finish for ND at the event. This Friday, RR interviews Matt Miller of UVa's varsity eight, about the season, this race, and the team's plans for Henley coming up in just a few short weeks.

Also, be sure to check out the coverage of the 109th IRA Regatta posted by Bryan on RowingNews.com, featuring photos and links to interviews with Mike Teti, Michael Callahan, Luke McGee, Crash-B Champion and Husky oarsman Conlin McCabe, as well as Hans Struzyna and others from the course in Cherry Hill over the weekend.

Want to suggest the next VOTW? Send us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com.

Note for FeedBurner subscribers: Click the title of the article to view the video on our website.

Friday, June 3, 2011

IRA Semis and Finals Coverage via Rowing News, Heats Recap

Check out the Rowing News Twitter feed (@RowingNews) this weekend for live updates and coverage of the IRA Championships, as Bryan once again teams up with RowingNews.com to bring you coverage from the course. Also, don't miss the live, streaming broadcast of the event produced Princeton Crew, hosted on their website.

The heats are done, with the usual suspects emerging on top in most cases. In the men's varsity eight, Cal, Washington, and Harvard all won their heats. Cal and Wisconsin faced off in the same heat, with Cal posting the fastest time of the day at 5:28, and Wisconsin crossing in 5:30 (the second fastest time of the day). It will be very interesting to see what happens in Semi 2, with Washington, Harvard, and Wisconsin together in the middle of the course (lanes 4, 3, and 2 respectively). Cal will face a tough challenge in Brown, who pushed Washington in today's heat.

In the 2V, Harvard, Washington, and a very surprising Cal emerged on top. The Badgers took second behind Cal in the heat, and again the two crews posted the two fastest times in their event. The Cal 2V has been well back of Washington thus far in 2011, but posted a time in the heat that is roughly five seconds faster than both Washington and Harvard (both undefeated this season). Something about Cal (5:39) and Wisco (5:42) that just generates speed, it seems. Cal will face another test tomorrow, with Washington in their semifinal.

The Princeton frosh are looking very strong, posting the fastest heat time in their event, dropping the Huskies by open water in the process. Harvard and Cal also won their heats, as expected. Tomorrow, Princeton will face a Cal squad that we expect to win the event – should be an interesting race given that we may have underestimated Princeton. Harvard and Washington will face off in the other semifinal.

Full results can be found here.

Coming next week: RR Interviews ACRA Champion Matt Miller of Virginia about the origins of his interest in the sport, the season, and his plans Summer 2011.

-RR

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

IRA National Championship Regatta, 2011: RR Picks and Predictions

Tomorrow the running of the 109th IRA Regatta will commence, with the heats/lane assignments now posted and the top varsity programs in the US assembled in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The racing will undoubtedly be extremely close once again, with international caliber talent on display, and two undefeated seasons on the line – Washington and Harvard have dominated the West and the East this season, with close competitors Cal in the West, Princeton and Wisconsin in the East. It wouldn't be RR if we didn't make some predictions, so let's get on with it.

Men's Varsity Eight: Grand Final and Order of Finish

Washington
California
Wisconsin
Harvard
Princeton
Brown

The Washington men will be looking to avenge last year's loss to Cal, Callahan has made switches since Pac-10s (two new rowers in their V8, both of whom have very good pedigrees - Ty Otto is now in the five seat, and was in last year's Husky V8 and US U23 8; Tom Lehmann is back in the boat at bow seat – he is Washington's one Olympian, having come 4th in the pair in Beijing for Germany). Cal will be extremely strong once again, with a lineup that features Beijing Olympian Olivier Siegelaar, and a coach who is truly one of the best in the world. California has a very talented frosh class that will be moving up next year, and Callahan will need to capitalize on his speed while he can, with Teti making a big difference already with both his skills on the water and his ability to recruit. Wisconsin trained through EARC Sprints, and was still able to claim a bronze medal – they have been aiming for this all season, and will be more than ready this weekend. For these reasons, we think that Washington, Cal and Wisco will push the Crimson out of the medals this weekend in the varsity eight, with Harvard coming off their tough four mile race v. Yale last weekend.

Men's Second Varsity Eight: Grand Final and Order of Finish

Washington
Harvard
Wisco
California
Princeton
Syracuse

The Washington 2V is very, very fast. At the Pac-10 Championships, they recorded a time of 5:41 seconds in a blowout, open water victory over the field. Their V8 raced roughly half an hour later, and while there may have been some changes in conditions, etc., the Husky V8 crossed the line in 5:38, with Cal pushing them all the way down the course (and finishing in 5:39). It would be tempting to suggest that the Husky 2V might be capable of making the grand final in the V8 category, but since they won't be racing in it, we'll just have to take them to finish on top in the 2V event. Harvard will be very strong as well – this match-up will feature two former NAC Junior two-time Youth National Champions facing off against one another, with AJ Brooks in the two seat of the Husky eight, and JP Hogan in the 2V from Harvard. We expect Wisconsin to round out the medals, following their strong performance at Sprints.

Men's Freshman Eight: Grand Final and Order of Finish

California
Harvard
Washington
Princeton
Navy
BU

The Golden Bears of Cal look to be the class of the field this year, following an undefeated season with open water victories all year, but Harvard will also bring an extremely talented crew to the event, after their dominant victory at Sprints. Harvard frosh coach Bill Manning is sick of losing to both Cal and Washington, and we are taking them to finish ahead of the Husky frosh this year.

Men's Lightweight Varsity Eight: Grand Final and Order of Finish

Harvard
Dartmouth
Princeton
Yale
Cornell
Navy (though this could be Columbia, depending on the heat structure)

Crimson oarsmen Austin Meyer and Will Newell are very strong, and very experienced. Rumor has it that Austin Meyer will be taking next year off to try to make the Olympic four if all goes well this Spring, so he will want to head into the Summer with a bang. Dartmouth has lots of big ergs and a good coach who will be looking to make a statement after retiring from coaching the Cornell heavies. They have some talent and very hardworking guys, led by sophomore Josh Konieczny, who went 6:13 earlier this year, breaking the school record for 2k. We're also looking for a very talented Princeton to bounce back from a tough race at EARCs and crack the medals at the IRA.

Women's Lightweight Eight: Grand Final and Order of Finish

Princeton
Wisconsin
Stanford
Radcliffe
Bucknell
Georgetown

The Tigers, whom we profiled earlier this year after they opened up with open water victories over Stanford (last year's champion) and Wisconsin, enter into the 109th IRA following an undefeated regular season and a victory at EARC Sprints, and they'll be looking to pull off the same feat as their openweight counterparts at NCAAs last Sunday. Wisconsin have been gaining speed all Spring, and we're looking for a strong second place finish from them, with Stanford holding off Radcliffe to take the bronze medal in the event.

Now that we're done prognosticating, we can sit back, relax, and do some armchair quarterbacking!

–RR