Monday, April 30, 2012

Video of the Week: The Content Cup – Princeton v. Brown



This week's video comes to us, once again, from Princeton, and features the Tiger heavyweight men taking on the Brown Bears. The race begins as a closely fought match between two perennial contenders in the Sprints/IRA field, but Brown shows new speed in the second half of the race, pulling away steadily in the headwind to take the Content Cup. The video is also a contrast in styles–two very different technical approaches at work, made more obvious by their juxtaposition. The result raises a few questions about the Sprints field as we approach championship season, as Princeton raced Harvard to a similar margin in the varsity eight in Boston, while Yale defeated Brown in an early season match-up in very rough conditions in Derby.

In other weekend racing, No. 3 Michigan swept Harvard and Clemson in the NCAA events, winning the 1V, 2V and V4 events ahead of the Crimson and the Tigers, respectively. Texas managed to take the Big 12 Championship again this year, holding off Oklahoma in the points 105-104 to earn the team trophy, despite the Sooners winning the varsity eight event. In southern California, the traditional rivalry race between UCLA and USC saw the Bruins win three of five, falling in the 1V to No. 5 USC by just 2.6 seconds, while dominating the frosh and 2V8s.

The Big Row in honor of Jill Costello took place over the weekend, pitting Cal against Stanford in their traditional rivalry race at Redwood Shores. Video footage of the 2012 Big Row to be posted tomorrow.

Also still to come: 2012 WIRAs Recap and Review, and the U.S. Men's Eight for the Lucerne Olympic Qualifier to be announced later today.

-RR

Friday, April 27, 2012

Updates from Selection Camp: The U.S. Men's Eight



The above video comes to us courtesy of California Rowing Club head coach Bernhard Stomporowski, and shows the athletes at the eight camp in the final stages of selection–a process that is due to end with the announcement of the eight for Lucerne on Monday, April 30th. Among the many faces present at the camp are a number of Beijing Olympians, including David Banks, Giuseppe Lanzone, Brett NewlinSteve Coppola, Dan Walsh, and Josh Inman (Banks, Lanzone and Newlin rowed on the M4- in 2008, while Coppola, Walsh and Inman won a bronze medal in the eight). There are also a number of athletes with national team experience, if not Olympic experience, challenging the more established résumés and looking to make a name for themselves. The camp has reached the point where there is a great deal of parity among the athletes, and the final selections will no doubt be extremely difficult for the coaching staff–however, Mike Teti has been in this position before, and we're confident that the eight that emerges will be one capable of qualifying, as well as challenging for a medal in London.

-RR

Thursday, April 26, 2012

SIRAs Review, WIRAs Preview

The Coast frosh head to the line at Redwood Shores (Photo: B. Kitch)
There is a great deal to talk about in the rowing world these days, with rogue swimmers, Olympic selection, and World Cups around the corner, all of which makes it hard to keep pace with the results as all the regattas and championships begin to crowd one another into the month of May. SIRAs, which took place last weekend, featured a great deal of very close racing between teams in that hard-to-define place between the top-tier varsity programs and top-tier clubs, while WIRAs will feature still more such teams this weekend in Sacramento. [Disclaimer/Warning: The following content contains opinions.]

SIRAs Review: 

The 2012 SIRAs showcased the increasing depth of the club field as a very strong Virginia program continues to improve under head coach Frank Biller. Biller's boys fought a varsity program in George Washington all the way to the line in the varsity eight, with the Colonials eventually edging the Cavaliers by just 0.3 seconds to win the event. Both crews were significantly out in front of the field (roughly six seconds), which was tightly packed and included Crew Classic winner Grand Valley State–a crew that just defeated Michigan at the Lubber's Cup Regatta. All this will make for a very interesting grand final in the varsity eight at the ACRA Championship Regatta coming up next month, with some hints to come from Dad Vails as well. Not only did the Virginia Cavaliers take a close second in the varsity eight, they also won the second varsity eight, took a bronze behind Marietta and GWU in the novice eight, and had another podium finish in the men's lightweight four. While Michigan has a great deal of returning talent, as we discussed on RR at the outset of the 2012 season, the pressure is on for Gregg Hartsuff to step up his top-end speed to keep up with the ever-increasing standard of the men's club field since the inception of the ACRA.

On the women's side, Grand Valley State took top honors in the varsity eight, and, in our opinion, they look poised to finish out the rest of the 2012 season undefeated, having already bested ACRA rivals Purdue (last year's Dad Vail and ACRA winners in the varsity eight) last weekend by more than six seconds. The GVSU program is having a banner year on both sides, and the Laker women will no doubt look to continue that trend throughout the championship circuit next month. Also worthy of mention are the Division II Nova Southeastern Sharks and Mercyhurst Lakers, who did well to make the A Final in both the varsity eight and varsity four at SIRAs (with Nova SE winning the V4 event).

WIRAs Preview:

The WIRA Regatta has gone to a different format this year, splitting the racing into two categories in the men's varsity eight (the varsity programs have been separated from the clubs) in order better align itself with the IRA (as far as we understand). The problem with that is, it takes down the level of competition overall, as some of the most competitive teams, including Orange Coast College, will be excluded from the varsity event. Also, it seems a little strange, given the standard of the varsity events, that there are two qualification spots from WIRAs for the 2012 IRA. While it makes some sense to try to streamline varsity competition as a means to mirror the NCAA model with its emerging conference championships, it doesn't make sense to reduce the number of at-large bids at the IRA when there is such a disparity between middle-level varsity programs.

SIRAs, Dad Vails, and ECACs have only one qualification spot per regatta. The Temple Owls defeated both UCSD and Gonzaga at Crew Classic by seven and eight seconds, respectively, but are in danger of not going to the IRA given the level of competition and the scarcity of qualifying spots at Dad Vails and SIRAs. Also, fewer varsity programs typically attend WIRAs than SIRAs or Dad Vails. Why is it, then, that WIRAs have been given two spots?

WIRAs Picks:

In the men's varsity club race, Paul Prioleau's Orange Coast College Pirates will be the favorite. The UCLA varsity eight will be the number one challenger in this race, led by standout junior Jeff Latham. With it being a seven-lane final only affair, UCSB led by Luke Wilhelm and UC Davis will also being looking to get onto the podium. In the men's varsity eight event, Gonzaga and UCSD will be getting into a tussle hoping to qualify their boats for the IRA. We are picking Zach Johnson and UCSD to win this round after having some bumps in the road earlier in the season.

In the men's novice eight, we expect Orange Coast College, UCSD and Gonzaga to provide a nice three way battle, though we expect the freshmen from Orange Coast College coached by Pat Gleason to take the WIRA crown over Gonzaga and then UCSD. UCI also has a very strong group of novice men that will be looking to upset someone from this group to get onto the podium.

In the men's JV race, we are picking UCSD to showcase their depth by take the victory over Gonzaga, UCSB, UC Davis and OCC.

The Division I women's varsity eight will be Glenn Putyrae's Gonzaga women and Stanford lightweight eight battling it out for the top spot while Sacramento State, LMU, and St. Mary's fight for the 3rd spot.

Western Washington will try to reverse recent results in the Division II race, having recently been tumbled from the top of the podium at the Northwestern Conference Rowing Championships by Humboldt State in the varsity eight. Look for WWU to win the second varsity eight event, having posted a four-second victory over the Jacks last weekend.

-The RR Editorial Staff

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Video Interviews: Washington's Michael Callahan and Dave O'Neill of Cal



Following the racing at Redwood Shores last weekend, we spoke with Washington men's head coach Michael Callahan (above), and Cal Women's Crew head coach Dave O'Neill (below) about the morning's events as well as the team outlook for the rest of the spring. The Washington men, as predicted, remained atop the collegiate rankings this week, while the Cal women moved from No. 4 going into the dual with Washington to taking over the No. 1 spot from Virginia in the most recent coaches' poll.



Thanks very much to Coach Callahan and Coach O'Neill for taking the time!

Coming this week: WIRAs 2012 Picks and Predictions–What to make of the new format and crews to watch this weekend. 

-RR

Monday, April 23, 2012

Video of the Week: The 101st Cal-Washington Dual at Redwood Shores



This week's video covers the men's and women's frosh, second varsity, and varsity eights races from Redwood Shores last Saturday, when the Washington Husky men and California Golden Bear women both posted sweeps of their arch rivals in ideal conditions. The Husky men entered the weekend as the No. 1 team in the country, and given that every Husky men's eight posted a time faster than 5:40 en route to defending the Schoch Cup (including a blistering 5:30.5 in the varsity eight), they will likely retain the top spot in the national rankings. The Cal women entered the fray as the No. 4 team in the country, with Washington holding onto the No. 2 spot following a solid performance at the San Diego Crew Classic. The Cal women, who had to reshuffle their lineups prior to Crew Classic due to two injuries in their varsity eight, came back with a vengeance at the Lake Natoma Invitational just over a week ago, and kept their momentum in a big way, recording a seven-second victory over the Huskies to retain the Simpson Cup.

Coming this week to RR: Video interviews with Cal's Dave O'Neill and Washington's Michael Callahan from Redwood Shores, following the racing at the 101st Cal-Washington Dual.

-RR

Friday, April 20, 2012

Weekend Filled to Brim with Intercollegiate Racing

Bears on the way to the line (Photo: B. Kitch)
This weekend is likely to be one for the ages, with the California v. Washington dual at Redwood Shores, CA, SIRAs taking place in Oak Ridge, TN, the Yale heavyweights taking on Cornell in Ithaca for the Carnegie Cup, the No. 1 Virginia women attempting to defend their ACC Championship title (having won 44 of the previous 48 races held at the last 12 ACC Championship regattas), and the Harvard men taking on Penn and a very strong squad from Navy, among many other intercollegiate match-ups. The Cal v. Washington dual pits two of the top four teams in the nation against one another on both the men's and women's sides, while SIRAs will see some of the top programs in the ACRA field go head-to-head in the men's and women's varsity eights. The Yale men are currently unbeaten in 2012, with sweeps over Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, and Penn–this weekend will prove perhaps the toughest test yet, though Cornell did not show the speed we were expecting at Crew Classic earlier this month.

For updates throughout the weekend, keep an eye on the 'Rowing Chat' Twitter box/list and the RR Twitter feed on the right side of the page, and look for recaps and reviews coming to RR next week following the racing, with a view toward the upcoming championship racing season next month.

-RR

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rowing News Magazine Sneak Peek: May 2012 Issue on its Way!

Coming Soon! (Image © Rowing News)
The May issue of Rowing News is hot off the press, and loaded with informed, opinionated content to help you take on championship season in stride. In addition to a roundup of the 2012 Crew Classic (the 39th edition and largest to date), see our take on the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, an interview with GB Rowing world gold and silver medalist (as both a lightweight and a heavyweight) James Clarke, columnist Topher Bordeau's take on online forums, and a fantastic, intimate look at how the Games may change London (as well as an insider's perspective on Olympic selection in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Germany) from River & Rowing Museum historian Christopher Dodd, author of the new book, Pieces of Eight. Add to this mix an in-depth look at 'everything you wanted to know–but were afraid to ask the boat rep–about buying your very own single,' including interviews with Beijing Olympians Tom Paradiso and Eric Murray of RowingNZ, and three-time USRowing Youth National Champion coach Nick D'Antoni, and you've got a guidebook to summer in the heart of spring racing season. All this and much more is on its way, from the team at Rowing News to your mailbox.

And while the magazine is on its way, check out our new feature piece with Beijing gold medalist, Adam Kreek, on his latest expedition–this time closer to home–on RowingNews.com.

-RR

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Video Interviews from Redwood Shores: Cal's Wyatt Allen and Paul Prioleau of OCC



The Cal squad had a great weekend at the Stanford Invitational/Pac-12 Challenge, but the frosh squad was perhaps the most dominant force on the water. Last year, the Cal frosh posted an undefeated season that they capped off with a victory at Henley Royal Regatta, and, given the level of talent this year, they may be poised to do just the same. Coach Wyatt Allen, however, remains cautious but optimistic, as is evident in the video above.



Orange Coast College had a tough go at Crew Classic, posting the third fastest time in the heats of the Cal Cup, but narrowly missing the final behind event winner Grand Valley State and the Oklahoma City University Stars. After winning Newport Regatta the weekend prior, OCC had solid results over the weekend (as head coach Paul Prioleau explains above) and will look to have a strong second half to the season.

-RR

Monday, April 16, 2012

Video of the Week: Cal Takes on Wisconsin at 2012 Stanford Invitational



The No. 3 Cal Bears were in action at home over the weekend, welcoming the No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers to Redwood Shores for a traditional early season match-up. The Bears are tuning up for the rivalry race with the Washington Huskies next weekend (21 April), also at Redwood Shores, while the Badgers came out to California looking to test their early season speed, with considerable success. The video, shot from the bridge which is (roughly) at the 1000m mark, includes clips from the men's varsity eight race (as well as MV8 match-ups between Stanford and UCSD, and Orange Coast College and USD), the 2V8, and the frosh eight events. The Badgers battled very well in the varsity eight, but fell by roughly a length to Cal, though Wisconsin was able to reverse this result in the 2V8, taking the event by approximately three seconds over a crew that defeated Harvard at the San Diego Crew Classic just two weeks ago. 

Coming up tomorrow on RR: Video interviews with Cal's Wyatt Allen on the outlook for the freshmen this year, as well as a progress update on OCC with Pirates' head coach Paul Prioleau.

-RR

Friday, April 13, 2012

Live Race Coverage from Boston, Princeton This Weekend

Tigers in action on Lake Carnegie this weekend in Princeton (Photo: B. Kitch)
There is a ton of intercollegiate racing on the schedule for this weekend, with some of the nation's top teams going toe-to-toe on both coasts. The Stanford Invitational and Lake Natoma Invitational out west, pitting the No. 3 Cal men against No. 4 (tied with Princeton) Wisconsin in the varsity eight on Saturday morning, while on the women's side, Pac-12 powers No. 8 Cal and No. 9 Stanford will welcome non-conference rivals Brown, Wisconsin and Texas, among others. Meanwhile, in the Northeast, the No. 2 Harvard heavyweight men are set to take on No. 4 Princeton and MIT, while the Crimson lightweight squad will race MIT and Dartmouth in Boston. For a link to live, streaming coverage of the action in Boston, follow the link below beginning at 7am Eastern Daylight Time:

http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/harvard.portal#

On Lake Carnegie, the No. 5 Princeton women will be going head-to-head with Yale and No. 7 USC, while the Tiger lightweight men will look to bounce back from a tough early-season home loss to Georgetown two weeks ago, battling Cornell.  Live coverage of the events in Princeton can be found at the following link, beginning at 9am EDT:

http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/cs.portal#

More updates to come from this weekend here on RR as well on RowingNews.com.

-RR

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

USRowing NSR II and Non-Qualified Olympic Small Boats Trials Finals Set

There has already been a great deal of close racing on the way to the finals, which will determine who earns the right to attempt to qualify their boat for the upcoming Olympic Games via the World Cup circuit. The closest race of the day, as you might expect, came on the lightweight side, while the heavyweight semis were a little more spread out en route to tomorrow's match-ups. Let's take a look at the crews to watch for tomorrow.

LW2x

Julie Nichols and Kristin Hedstrom became the first U.S. crew to win a World Cup last season, and narrowly missed a medal at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled last September. While they seem to have taken it pretty easy in the Time Trial that preceded the head-to-head racing, Nichols and Hedstrom appear poised and ready for tomorrow's final. However, they'll have a new challenge on their hands, with the combination of Hillary Saeger (bronze medal in the LW4x in Bled) and lightweight 2k world record holder Ursula Grobler, who won the other semi in the fastest time and who have looked good all week. Lindsay Hochman and Katherine Robinson (both of whom raced to a bronze medal with Saeger last year) form another combination to watch, and Beijing Olympian Jen Goldsack and partner Jenneatte Daley should not be counted out. Then there is the U.S. LW2x from the Pan American Games, Chelsea Smith and Michelle Sechser, who both doubled up to win bronze in the LW2x and W4x in Guadalajara. Suffice it to say, it's a deep field, with a great deal of experience. Our likely winner will be Nichols and Hedstrom, but look for the combination of Grobler and Saeger to pose a real threat and potentially take the contest.

LM2x

The favorites entering the fray will be Andrew Campbell and Beijing Olympian Will Daly, who spent much of the winter training with the Kiwi national team, and who have looked like the most polished combination in the field thus far. The closest race of the day in the semis was for the final qualifying spot in the final, with the combination of Beijing Olympian Tom Paradiso and Robert Duff just edging Brian de Regt and John Graves by 0.066 seconds, coming from behind in the last 250m to overtake Craftsbury on the line. Recent RR interviewee Nick Trojan and new double partner (as of roughly three weeks ago) Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg also made the final, and will be joined by Jon Winter and Austin Meyer, rounding out the four boat final. Again, our likely winner will be Campbell and Daly (especially given the apparent ease with which they qualified for the final), but the rest of the field will be very agressive, and likely tightly packed.

W1x

Our pick this year is another Beijing Olympian, Lindsay Meyer, who, along with last year's USA W1x Gevvie Stone, qualified with relative ease, and posted the fastest time in the event today. Isolda Penney won the first heat, but qualified in 8:10 compared to Meyer's 7:57, and, according to Glenn Ochal, Meyer's cadence was 28 through the back half of the race (as was Stone's), showing that there is much more speed to be had. Seattle Rowing Center's Helen Tompkins has represented the U.S. at the U23 level three times, but may find the pace difficult tomorrow.

M2x

The favorites for this event will be two more Beijing athletes, Warren Anderson and Sam Stitt, who placed second and third, respectively, at the first NSR roughly a month ago. So far, they have posted the fastest times, though in today's semi the duo of Pete and Tom Graves were just two seconds back, finishing in approximately 6:28 to Anderson and Stitt's 6:26. The Grave brothers represented the U.S. in Bled in the M2x, and it will be interesting to see the kind challenge they can bring tomorrow. The other semi went to Willie Cowles and Stephen Whelpley in 6:31, with second place going to Ryan Shelton and Martin Etem in 6:33. According to Ochal, Cowles and Whelpley were in control from the 1000m, and have likely played their cards close to the vest for tomorrow's final.

W2x

Our pick for this event will be the combination of Megan Kalmoe and Ellen Tomek, who took fifth in the W2x in Beijing, have a great deal of experience racing with one another, and have posted the fastest time in the heats by some seven seconds. Look for Stesha Carle and Kate Bertko to take second, with Carle having brought home silver from Bled with Kalmoe, and Bertko having raced in the W2x in Bled. Margot Shumway (who won gold in the W1x at Pan Ams last year) and Sarah Trowbridge (who was in the U.S. W2x in Bled with Bertko) will likely be in the mix, while BC grad Katherine Stainken and Duke alum Mae Joyce Gay may not yet have the experience necessary to place themselves in contention for the top spot.

You can watch the finals tomorrow live, beginning at 9am PDT here:
http://www.usrowing.org/News/12-04-11/Watch_Finals_Live_Thursday_April_12.aspx

For updates from the course, check in with the USRowing Twitter account, as well as U.S. Olympic hopeful Glenn Ochal (@glennochal).

-RR

Monday, April 9, 2012

Video of the Week: Princeton Wins 2012 Childs Cup



While there was a great deal of controversy swirling about the murky waters of the Thames over the weekend, the U.S. intercollegiate racing season continued on Lake Carnegie, where the Princeton Tigers took on Columbia and Penn for the 2012 edition of the Childs Cup. Conditions were less than ideal, but the Tiger heavies manage to row a clean race through considerable chop and wind in the above video, while Penn and Columbia battle it out for bragging rights. The Princeton men nearly posted a clean sweep of the events on Saturday, but the Penn 2F were able to out-duel the Tigers in a very long race (roughly seven minutes) by just over a length.

The Stein Cup between Harvard and Brown featured an extremely close race in the varsity eight, with the Crimson taking the victory in a blistering 5:25.4 to Brown's 5:26.0 in Providence, while the Northeastern men swept local rival Boston University to take the Arlett Cup. Meanwhile, over in sunny Southern California, Orange Coast College hosted the 47th annual Newport Regatta, which the Pirates won in dramatic fashion in a time of 6:01.1, just edging the University of San Diego at 6:01.3, and UCLA at 6:02.2.

On the women's side, Michigan State posted a near sweep of Iowa (with the exception of the 2F) in Solon, Iowa and The Ohio State University swept Wisconsin in the varsity events, while the Badgers took the frosh events in Bloomington, Indiana. Local rivals Washington and Washington State were in action on the Montlake Cut, with the Huskies winning all varsity events, and the Cougars taking the frosh eight by a length. Cornell made it two in a row over Yale for the Cayuga Cup, winning the varsity eight and varsity four, while the Bulldogs took the 2V, 3V and 2V4 events.

-RR

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Op-Ed: Thoughts on The 2012 Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race

Oxford launching (Photo: © B. Kitch)
Like many people in the rowing community watching all over the world today, I found the events of the Boat Race difficult to stomach, for a number of reasons. While I, along with many others, had expected something of a one-sided affair with Oxford being the favorite, the race was developing into what might have been an all-time great, with the crews level pegging through the halfway point, and Oxford just beginning to take advantage of their station as they drew near to the Bandstand. And then it stopped.

Everyone already knows what happened as a result of the 'boat race swimmer.' The boats were forced to restart, and there was a clash that resulted in the loss of Hanno Wienhausen's blade, effectively ending the race as they passed the Chiswick Eyot. Congratulations to Cambridge, who should be lauded for mettle given the circumstances, and who fought well when there was a fight to be had.

The first thing that crosses your mind has to do with safety–surely that man had fallen into the river and, luckily, the umpires spotted him and halted the race so as to protect him from harm. Then, anger, at the realization upon seeing his self-congratulatory smirk (as the Oxford oarsmen carefully maneuvered their blades to avoid hitting him) that he had placed himself there on purpose. Then despair, at the thought of all the hard work that every one of the athletes involved has done over the past months, and even years, to arrive that this point, only to be forced to put their dreams aside in order to protect the safety of a malicious, or at least completely misguided, intruder. Then the unavoidable sense of irony, no doubt entirely lost on the swimmer, that it was only the care and decency of those engaged in competition that prevented the swimmer from suffering serious injury.

The first question people want to ask, of course, is 'why?' But I hope that no one does. If it is protest that this person is after, then there are many ways to protest without destroying the work of others. In the words of William Zeng, Rhodes Scholar and two seat of the Oxford Blue Boat:

When I missed your head with my blade I knew only that you were a swimmer, and if you say you are a protester then, no matter what you say your cause may be, your action speaks too loudly for me to hear you. I know, with immediate emotion, exactly what you were protesting. You were protesting the right of seventeen young men and one woman to compete fairly and honorably, to demonstrate their hard work and desire in a proud tradition. You were protesting their right to devote years of their lives, their friendships, and their souls to the fair pursuit of the joys and the hardships of sport. You, who would make a mockery of their dedication and their courage, are a mockery of a man.

The ancient Greeks, who invented sport as we know it, also knew just the punishment for this sort of thing. There was once a man, who, desperate for fame, tried to make the historical record by burning down the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. The response? The local authorities forbade the mention of his name.

Unfortunately, the historian Theopompus recorded the name of Herostratus along with the record of the event. The modern media will have this swimmer's name everywhere over the next 24 hours, and that is a real shame. There are many more important things in this world than sport, and the athletes showed that they were conscious of this even while in the midst of the race they'd spent the last six months training for. But, because of all the troubles of the real world, there is something sacred about a closely fought race–something pure, simple, and greater than the sum of its parts, like the sport of rowing itself. That purity of effort, that magic, which is born of self-sacrifice for the benefit of another, was before our eyes today as Cambridge took on Oxford, only to be lost in the wake of an utterly selfish act.

-Bryan

Friday, April 6, 2012

RR Friday Interview: U.S. Lightweight Sculler, Nick Trojan, Part II

Since we posted the first half of our interview with young standout Nick Trojan, the lineups for the second National Selection Regatta and the Non-Qualified Olympic Small Boats Trials have been announced, and it has been confirmed that Trojan will be taking on a very tough field along with new double partner Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg. Here follows the second half of our interview with Trojan, post NSR I, with details about his preparation and working with coach Carlos Dinares.

RR: There were a number of lightweights that showed up at NSR I, many of them training in the LA area. Do you run into these guys all the time? Have you been training with them? 

NT: It’s funny. Before NSR I , I’d been down in Newport rowing the single. I would just do one, solid row in the morning, just as I would have done at Carlos’s house–I was pretty much doing Carlos’s training, but I couldn’t do as much as I was doing up there because of traffic, working, etc. But I did run into Pete, Tom and John [Graves] quite a bit. I tried to stay out of their way, because they have their own thing going, and I didn’t want to interfere with that, but it’s enjoyable to see them because they are fun guys to hang out with. I’m training mostly in Newport at this point.

RR: There were some big names on the NSR I list–how did it feel on the start line next to some of the most famous rowers in the U.S.? What were your expectations? 

NT: I had plenty of mixed feelings. When I first got there I thought, ‘This is going to be good.’ As a result of that erg piece, I thought I could do well, hang with the lightweight pack, and I’m still banking on Carlos’s training in the fall–I had done so much volume in the fall that I was really ready to go anytime in the spring. I didn’t really realize it at the time. My goal was to be as fast as the other lightweights. I just took it one race at a time, and really blow it out each time–I had nothing to lose, so I could just shoot for the moon, and ‘whatever happens happens.’

RR: What was your feeling going into the A/B Semi? 

NT: I was just thinking, ‘try to beat the guys that I know are near or at my speed.’ After the heat, I kind of realized where I was relative to everyone else. Of course, Brian de Regt was in my heat, and I knew he was fast, because he has done so much in the lightweight world, and been to worlds so many times, and has so much experience. I thought, ‘if I can just stick next to him, I’ll be okay.’ Peter [Graves] was in there as well, and he was just killing it the whole regatta. Warren Anderson was going to be the fastest one out there. It was kind of like going down a mental ‘who can I beat’ checklist, saying ‘maybe, probably not, no, no, no.’ My ultimate plan was just to stay with Brian de Regt–maybe I could, or maybe I couldn’t, but if I could stick with him and manage to be in the top three then I knew I would be in a great place. I went into it with as much confidence as I could.

RR: Did you feel that you could let loose in the A Final? You had already accomplished a great deal just to be there–was it freeing?

NT: It was freeing, but I knew I still had to stay focused on doing well–I knew I couldn’t just throw this one away. I was way more excited to go all out for that race, because I knew that, no matter what, I was going to be somewhere with the guys–I knew that I wasn’t going to be last place by 10 seconds, and that I could be with the pack. Throughout the regatta, I was calling Carlos, and getting words of wisdom from him. He’s my current coach, even if I am not training at his house, I still use him as a major resource. He was hugely helpful through the whole thing, and really called everything as it was.

RR: Did he help you put together a race plan together? 

NT: You could say it was a race plan. It was basically like, ‘here’s where you are; here’s where the field is speed-wise; here’s who you should try to beat; here’s who you should try to keep up with,’ as well as letting me know that, for example, ‘at this point in the race, you should be this much faster than this person, or this much slower than another person.’ It was great getting his input, because he told me that he knew exactly how fast I was, and it was nice having someone there who knew exactly what I had been doing, telling how well I could do, or how bad it could go. He gets a lot of criticism, but until you’ve met the real Carlos, and given him a chance to impart his wisdom, you can’t fully appreciate his skill. I hope that people eventually listen to him, because he is right about a lot of things. I know he has his ticks, and can be very harsh, but that is just his passion of the sport speaking. It’s not a desire to be mean, or that he doesn’t want people to like him, he just has a huge passion for the sport, so he is going to express his opinion as honestly and openly as possible. It’s definitely good having him keeping me in check, and telling me what I need to do to go a certain speed.

RR: The word on the street is that you may be putting a lightweight double together with Dan Urevick-Acklesberg. Is that true? 

NT: We are actually in the process of figuring that out–it’s not a secret, but we have no idea. We’ve been rowing the double for a week, and it’s been feeling very good. We’re not setting expectations, but we are competitors, so we are not going to go out there to lose.

Thanks very much to Nick for taking the time! NSR II and Non-Qualified Olympics Small Boats Trials begin on Monday, 9 April in West Windsor, New Jersey Chula Vista, California. For more information, please see the official website of USRowing

-RR

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Boat Race Banter: RR Pick and Prediction for the 2012 Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race



The Boat Race is just around the corner, and, as usual, we have some thoughts on just what to look for this weekend. We've seen the evidence from fixtures and early season training, gone over the lineups, and, in the end, we've come to the same conclusion as the bookies–Oxford will win the 2012 Boat Race. Not only that, but we will say that Oxford will win by three lengths.

Why? Oxford head coach Sean Bowden has proven again and again that he knows exactly what it takes to produce a Boat Race winning crew, and this alone is enough to convince us that the weight differential is not a major concern (though typically the heavier crew–that would be Cambridge this year–has an advantage in the often rough conditions on the Tideway). Having been tested against some similar competition, Oxford have shown that they are capable of battling back from adversity, enduring clashes and racing at close quarters. Also, it's worrying that Cambridge struggled against the University of London in an early Tideway session, losing three straight pieces to UL, and splitting a fixture with a Molesey crew that was largely intact from a fixture with Oxford two weeks earlier (when Oxford won two of two).

As a nod to Oxford, we've given our mascot, RoRy, a Dark Blue blade in the RR header (upper right of the page) for the weekend. If Cambridge prove us wrong, we'll give RoRy a Light Blue blade throughout next week.

Upcoming: The second half of our two-part interview with U.S. lightweight sculling standout, Nick Trojan.

-RR

The Brown Cup, 2012: UBC and UVic Renew Their Rivalry on the Gorge Waterway



The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race is fast approaching, and the buzz around the Tideway is growing to fever pitch in anticipation of Saturday's contest. The 2012 Brown Cup, however, is already in the books. The above video shows the 21st contest between the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia men's squads (the women raced this year for the 19th time), over a 3k course on the Gorge Waterway that ends at the Johnson Street Bridge in downtown Victoria, BC. The 2012 race was a hard fought and closely contested event, with the UBC crew just edging UVic by less than one second at the line, marking the fourth win in 21 tries for the UBC Thunderbirds, who won the Cal Cup at the 2011 San Diego Crew Classic, and who bested Temple to win the Petite Final of the Men's Copley Cup in San Diego last weekend.

The race has seen a great deal of elite level athletes take part over the years, including Olympic silver medalist Barney Williams, Beijing gold medalists Adam Kreek and Kyle Hamilton, Mike Lewis (Bronze medal in the LM4- in Beijing), Ben Rutledge (who filmed the above video), Gabe Bergan (bow of the current Canadian men's eight), and Doug Csima, among others. Also, Tom Watson who is now at Oxford gearing up to stroke Isis in the reserve race this Saturday, has raced for UVic in the past. Given all this, it's no wonder that national team athletes take an interest in the race, and the results–prior to last year's Brown Cup, Kevin Light put together a feature on the event, giving an added insight into the athlete experience.

A complete recap of this year's racing can be found here.

Heading back across the pond, there has been a great deal of build-up for this year's Oxbridge contest, and it wouldn't be right if we didn't throw our collective hat in the ring and make a pick, which we'll release later today (how's that for a cliff hanger?).

The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race is set for this Saturday, 7 April at 1415 GMT. For more on the Boat Race, please visit the official website.

-RR

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

San Diego Crew Classic, 2012: Recap and Review

GVSU holds off Notre Dame to win the Men's Cal Cup (Photo: B. Kitch)
The 2012 San Diego Crew Classic showcased some of the nation's top talent, and the athletes did not disappoint on Mission Bay last weekend. The racing was fierce, and when all was said and done, we felt pretty good about our picks, with a few notable exceptions. Let's take a look.

Men's Events

The Men's Varsity Eight Copley Cup:

As we anticipated, the Crimson were able to handle a very strong challenge from the Cal Bears, who led through the early stages of the race. Navy proved to be stronger than Stanford, who made use of an extremely unconventional rig (which made the Cardinal men's varsity eight one of the talking points of the regatta). Cornell and Michigan rounded out the final, in keeping with our predictions.

The Men's Varsity Eight Cal Cup:

Again in keeping with our predictions, Grand Valley State University took first place in a tight field (an entry that featured novice standout Nate Biolchini in the four seat–Biolchini recorded a 6:06.3 at CRASH-Bs in February). However, Drexel did not show the speed we anticipated, and the Fightin' Irish of Notre Dame had a great showing, and were perhaps only an equipment malfunction away from a Cal Cup victory. Six seat (and top Irish erg score) Zach Stackhouse had to stop for several strokes as the CLAM on his oar failed–he reached out, grabbed it, and threw it off while racing the first 500m–putting the Irish in fifth place for much of the first 1000m. They drew level with GVSU with 300m to go, but were unable to hold off the Lakers' late charge and took second place. Purdue came through with a solid third place, and will likely be a strong competitor through the second half of the season, having moved up an ACRA champion frosh class to the varsity squad this year.

Men's Collegiate Junior Varsity Eight:

While we expected Harvard to take this event, Cal were able to turn the tables following a loss in the varsity eight, winning by roughly a length over the Crimson. Also, showing more depth than last season, the Bears 'B' entry finished third and spoiled our pick of Cornell. Big Red didn't bring as much top end speed to this race as we expected, but will likely have their sights set on goals further down the line (head coach Todd Kennett knows how to deliver at the end of the season).

Men's Junior Eight (High School):

Marin absolutely dominated once again, winning by a comfortable margin over out pick for second place, Everett. Despite having shown early season speed, Los Gatos, our pick for third, failed to make the final, and St. Ignatius stepped up to the challenge, crossing the line ahead of perennial SoCal contenders Newport AC, Marina AC, and LBJC, respectively.

Women's Events

Women's Varsity Eight Jessop-Whittier Cup:

As we expected, the Women of Troy once again showed great early season speed, winning the varsity eight over Virginia by roughly eight seats to take the title for the second straight year. Our pick for third, Cal, was unable to hold off a resurgent crew from Washington, falling to fourth place, with UCLA edging Stanford into sixth place.

Women's Varsity Eight Cal Cup:

The Duke Blue Devils (our No. 2 seed) returned to Mission Bay for the first time since 2002, and did so in style, winning their event over Oregon St. and our No. 1 seed Oklahoma, respectively. The Iowa Hawkeyes did reach the final, but wound up in sixth place behind local favorite USD and a growing program at Tulsa.

Women's Collegiate Junior Varsity Eight:

The UCLA women's team may have been the story of the regatta–and we're not the only ones who think so (the Bruin women have gone from unranked in the previous CRCA/USRowing coaches' poll to tied for third overall with Washington). The Bruins entered the regatta having lost the six seat of their varsity eight to an injury sustained while cooking, so each of the crews was untested entering the fray in San Diego. The UCLA JV responded to adversity by taking the event by open water over our pick for No. 1 Washington, and Virgnia, respectively, with the Bruins having already gotten the better of Stanford in the varsity eight. Our picks for second and third, Cal and USC, fell to fifth and sixth to round out the final.

Women's Varsity Four:

Our No. 1 seed, Virginia, got the job done for Kevin Sauer, winning the event over a strong entry from Washington State and another fast combination from UCLA, which might have been in contention had it not been for a crab in the first 500m. Again, our picks for second and third, USC (last year's champ) and Washington, fell to fifth and sixth place, respectively, behind Tennessee in fourth place overall.

Women's Junior Eight (High School):

As expected the Oakland Strokes kept it rolling, taking first place by roughly seven seconds over a very young Connecticut Boat Club, who reversed our prediction with Marin, edging MRA into third place. Also as predicted, Upper Natoma made the final, taking fifth place overall.

Congrats to all those who raced over the weekend, and for complete results, please visit the official site of the San Diego Crew Classic. Thanks to all those whose hard work made the event such a success once again!

-RR

Monday, April 2, 2012

Video of the Week: NCAA Early Season - Michigan v. Brown v. Princeton



The Michigan Wolverines got the season started with a bang, defeating NCAA grand finalists Princeton and Brown in this spring match up and making their intentions clear for the 2012 season. The Tigers had an undefeated season in the varsity eight last year, but lost some horsepower and experience, including Canadian U23 world champion Lauren Wilkinson. Brown–having snuck up on the competition once again to win yet another NCAA team title last year–often seems to find its speed late, so while the Bears were out of the mix in this contest, you can never count them out when championship racing season arrives.

The San Diego Crew Classic took place over the weekend, so it's time for us to take a look at the top performers and see how we did with our picks–keep an eye out for updates to come this week, as well as Part II of our interview with Nick Trojan, to be posted this Friday.

Thanks to Princeton Crew for posting the high quality video to their YouTube Channel!

-RR