Monday, April 28, 2014

The California-Washington Dual, 2014: Century-Old Rivalry Renewed at Redwood Shores

The men's second varsity eights coming through the bridge (Photo: B. Kitch) 
The 103rd Cal-Washington Dual (or, depending on whom you ask, 'Duel') took place on Saturday, and the results were both surprising and impressive. It was a much closer affair (in most cases) than in recent years, and the two varsity eights races were absolutely befitting of one of America's oldest rivalries. Standing at the bridge (which comes just after the 1k mark of the 2000-meter course), it was nearly impossible to tell the outcome of any of the morning's events, with the exception of the frosh races, as crews battled, clawed, and fought back from early deficits, and in a few cases overturned the early leaders. Also, while the conditions for the first half of the race were ideal—thanks to very protected water—the second half of the course was tricky for rowers and coxswains alike with a stiffening crosswind throughout the day.

The women's varsity eight, shown in the video above (please excuse the camera work—that's what happens when you're tweeting, instagramming, and shooting video all at once), was a characteristically close contest, and one which saw the Golden Bears gradually, but constantly, edge their bow ahead—in the end, all those inches added up to a margin of roughly a length over the Huskies, with Cal crossing the finish line in 6:34.17 to Washington's 6:37.27. From the bridge, it looked as if the men's varsity eight race would be quite similar, as the Bears led by roughly a canvas crossing the 1000m mark, but the relatively young (and as yet unsung) Husky varsity eight is no longer flying under anyone's radar, as they battled back and defended the Schoch Cup by 0.56 seconds (see finish-line photo below).

Men's varsity eights crossing the line (Photo courtesy of Dan Perkins)

"We're a team where there are a lot of new guys in new roles," said Washington men's head coach Mike Callahan after the racing. "I think there are six new people, including the coxswain, in the varsity eight, so there's a lot of people who needed to step up and assume roles that they'd never taken on before, and who had never been in a position like this—maybe they'd never been in the varsity eight, or been in the varsity competing for the Schoch Cup, or even in a [such a back-and-forth] race like that. So I think we've had a lot of buy-in from the guys. Since the fall the guys have put in a lot of what I would say is championship-quality work—really strong work—and that's something to be proud of in and of itself. Does that make fast boats in the end? That's the trick. But they've really responded well—guys like Matt Milner [bow seat of the varsity eight on Saturday, despite not making an IRA boat during the 2013 season], guys who rowed over the summer and got themselves into really good shape, who started competing, and taking people's seats."

He continued: "What can draw from this? We needed guys to mature—they did. A result like this today—it's great to see them in that position, having a race like that where it's within seats all the way down, and being able to respond the right way, and keep their cool—that's been the theme of the year. We know that Cal's going to be good; we know that Harvard is going to be fantastic, and all these teams—Princeton's coming on, Yale's coming on, etc.—but we can't control any of them. It's a cliché, but it's true. That's how we raced today."

Women's second varsity eights at 1250m (Photo: B. Kitch)
From the Cal perspective, it was a tough day in some ways, but also a great mid-season test. "Look—they're two really good boats," said Cal men's head coach Mike Teti, "and I think if they're both having a decent day, then they're going to be pretty close. I would have liked to have been on the right end of one of those [races] in the varsity and JV, but I thought the times were really fast for these cross-headwind conditions, so it was pretty good. It shows that they're two good crews." Very good, indeed—the Cal men came into the racing as the No. 1 team in the country, with Washington ranked No. 2.

Complete results below:

Read the recaps from the Cal Athletics Department:
No. 2 Cal Claims Simpson Cup
No. 2 Washington Tops No. 1 Cal to Capture Schoch Cup

And from the Washington Athletics Department:
No. 7 Huskies Split with No. 2 Cal
No. 2 Washington Defeats No. 1 California


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Video(s) Of The Week: Princeton Tigers Strong on Home Course

This week's videos come to us from Carnegie Lake, where the Princeton open women took on Yale last weekend, while the lightweight men battled Penn and Georgetown. The women's varsity eights race saw the Tigers take an early lead, and endure several strong moves by a very talented Yale crew to record a wire-to-wire victory—dealing the Bulldogs their first loss of this young season, and keeping the Eisenberg Cup in Princeton for another year.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Weekend Double-Feature: Crimson Twice Victorious on the Charles

This week's double-feature comes to us from the Charles River in Boston, where the Harvard men's varsity eight held off Princeton in new head coach Charley Butt's first home race to win the Compton Cup by roughly half a length. Harvard took the look early, but Princeton held on very well, and going into the final 500 meters, the Tigers made a great charge for the line and closed the gap on the Crimson—especially impressive given the challenging conditions and being on the road.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

[Photos] San Diego Crew Classic, 2014: RR Editors' Picks

This year's running of Crew Classic in San Diego was marked, more than anything, by large margins in the marquee races, and saw defending champions on the men's and women's sides take titles once again on Mission Bay. While we didn't post picks and predictions for San Diego this year, it was a good measuring stick for our preseason rankings. And, while there were a few surprises, in most cases the results confirmed our suspicions.

At the collegiate level, arguably the most impressive performances of the regatta came from the California men and the Washington women—while UW didn't manage to wrestle the Jessop-Whittier Cup from USC's vise-grip, the Huskies and Golden Bears showed off their depth as well as excellent top-end speed over the course of the two-day regatta. The Cal men's varsity eight (RR preseason No. 1) absolutely dominated the Copley Cup final, winning by roughly eight seconds over Northeastern ( RR No. 5), who finished eight seconds ahead of Stanford (RR No. 8). On the women's side, Washington (our preseason No. 5) placed second in the varsity eight, second in the 2V, and won the women's novice eight event. The Trojan women showed that they will be a force once again, winning the varsity eight and both varsity four events, and placing a close third in the 2V grand final. Hometown favorites USD also posted strong results, even edging Wisconsin and UCLA in the varsity eight to take fourth overall.

At the Cal Cup level, our ACRA preseason No. 3 Grand Valley State took the title by just over a length, while on the women's side a transplanted Canadian rivalry saw British Columbia edge the University of Victoria for the crown by roughly three seconds. In the lightweight events, our preseason No. 1 Stanford lightweight women looked very strong, winning their fourth straight Crew Classic, and will likely be competing for a fifth consecutive IRA title this spring, while Purdue took an open water victory over the field on the men's side.

Junior rowing in California is always strong, and once again Marin and Oakland were duking it out for the podium on Mission Bay. This year, Oakland won a double victory in the women's events, taking the varsity and second varsity, while Marin matched this feat on the men's side, also adding a victory in the junior lightweight eight. Long Beach Junior Crew, Marina AC and Newport AC also had strong showings, with Long Beach winning the junior women's lightweight eight and defending their 2013 title.

For complete results, please visit the official website of the San Diego Crew Classic.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Video Of The Week: Recapping the Boat Race, 2014

This week's video comes to us from the Tideway, where yet another Boat Race was marked by a singular incident that proved to be, as Henri Cartier-Bresson might have described it, "the decisive moment." Once again, the race was more closely contested than most thought it would be through the early stages—much like the first half of the now infamous 2012 Boat Race, which was later marred by outside interference, and then by a disastrous clash that sheared off a blade in the Oxford boat—only to finish in a veritable parade.

The disappointing thing is that we didn't get to see a true reflection of Cambridge's speed over the full course. It's no-one's fault—take a look at the slow-motion replay in the video to fully comprehend just what a freak accident it was—as a host of circumstances conspired to make for the worst possible outcome: just as Luke Juckett is squaring his blade to the water, Oxford seven-man Sam O'Connor's blade emerges from the water, barely clipping the bottom edge of the light blue hatchet, but with enough force to cause Juckett's blade to do a 180 degree turn, resulting in an immediate crab. Could the Cambridge coxswain, Ian Middleton, have played it safe and not tried to prevent Oxford from breaking away? Yes, but both coxswains were being aggressive throughout the early stages.

"I'm actually surprised with how much work the umpire is having to do," said Matthew Pinsent during the first quarter of the race. "Both crews are coming together quite a lot, and he's having to warn both crews apart to keep the race as clean as he can."

If you're already the underdog, you can't back down, and you need to take as much advantage of the stream as possible. The unfortunate thing was that unlike most clashes, this was so minor—a clip more than a clash—and yet it had catastrophic results for Cambridge. Yes, we expected that the winner would be Oxford, and by a significant margin, but could this have been a classic in the making?

(Well, judging by caliber of the Dark Blues, as well as the outcome of the reserves race, probably not. Taking nothing away from the outstanding job that Sean Bowden does to train and develop athletes, this battle was won during the recruiting process.)

Here's what everyone else is saying about it:
The BNY Mellon Boat Race Report 6th April 2014 —The Boat Race
The Boat Race 2014: Oxford University claim biggest win over Cambridge since 1973 —The Telegraph
Big Boat Race win for Oxford —World Rowing
Boat Race 2014: Oxford emphatically beat Cambridge —BBC Sport
[Photos] A selection of images from the 2014 Boat Race —Rowing Photography
Images of the 160th Boat Race, Part 1: The Prelude —Hear The Boat Sing

Have a submission for 'Video Of The Week?' Shoot us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com, send us your suggestions via Twitter, or get in touch via our Facebook or Google+ pages.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Boat Race Prediction: A Darker Shade of Blue

The 160th Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race is upon us, and it wouldn't be right if we didn't throw our hat into the ring and offer a prediction for today's outcome. Given the experience, horsepower, and recent history for Oxford, we're backing the Dark Blue to repeat as champions in 2014, this time by a margin of five lengths. From top to bottom, the Oxford lineup is fantastic on paper, and looks to be living up to that potential given the results from their Tideway fixtures. Cambridge will have a tall task before them, and will no doubt put up a valiant fight, but over the course of four miles (and in potentially rough conditions) the experience and caliber of the Dark Blue crew will more than likely make this an open water victory. (And, based on the results of our RR reader poll, 80% of you agree.)

The race is set for 1755 GMT. The veterans races yesterday saw a trio of victories for Cambridge. You can follow all the action via Twitter (@theboatrace), and keep an eye on Instagram as well (@rowingphotography). For more information, see the official website of the BNY Mellon Boat Race.


Friday, April 4, 2014

RR Updates: Boat Race, Crew Classic This Weekend, and Thanks a Million

A little while ago, we reached another milestone here at RR, and, well, we're pretty chuffed about it. Last month, we crossed the 1 million pageview mark, and we'd like to say thank you for reading, viewing, sharing, commenting, and just generally being a member of what we like to think of as the RowingRelated community. Hard to believe that it all began with this post, our Statement of Purpose, in October of 2010. So, thanks a million, everyone!

The weekend ahead is loaded with on-the-water action on both sides of the pond, with the 2014 San Diego Crew Classic taking over Mission Bay, and the BNY Mellon Boat Race pitting rival shades of blue against one another for the 160th time. We'll be on the beach in San Diego to catch the racing in Southern California—look for social media updates throughout the weekend (see here for the schedule/draw)—and in the meantime, don't forget to vote in our Boat Race poll. Who's your pick to reach Mortlake first this year?


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Video(s) Of The Week: The 2014 Dublin Boat Races

With the Henley Boat Races (including the Newton Women's Boat Race—see here for race video) in the books already, and so much focus on the Tideway in London this weekend, it's important to remember that another heated rivalry was recently renewed just across the Irish Sea, when University College Dublin took on Trinity College in the 2014 edition of the Dublin Boat Races. In the Gannon Cup (men's varsity eight), an exciting race saw Trinity grab and early lead, and hold UCD throughout much of the roughly 2k course on the River Liffey, only to come to a halt when the Trinity four-man Luke Acheson passed out within 250 meters of the finish, allowing UCD to record their seventh-straight win. (According to this report, Acheson was taken from the boat and directly to hospital, from which he was discharged later that day, and has since made a full recovery.)