|Texas launching for the final on Mission Bay (Photo: B. Kitch)|
The intercollegiate events in San Diego were, as expected, lopsided in favor of Cal on the men's side, but more than a little interesting on the women's side. "We had said well, we're looking to be good. And our standards of good have changed," says newly appointed Texas Women's Rowing head coach Dave O'Neill. "In January/February, when people started pulling some real numbers, the rowing became more consistent and looking good—we realized we could be good."
Apparently, things are indeed pointing in the right direction. While few people in the rowing community would be surprised that the longtime Cal head coach who led such a successful Golden Bears program would have success in his new state, we'd be lying if we said we expected the 'O'Neill effect' to take hold this quickly. Remember to factor in O'Neill's coaching the U23 women's eight for USRowing last summer, and you start to really appreciate just how much this burnt orange squad has accomplished in a short time.
Mobile users: Click here for the RR Crew Classic 2015 Photo Album on Flickr
Meanwhile, for the Cal men (who 'suffer' through #CaliWinter on home water and don't typically have a training trip), Crew Classic offered an opportunity to travel together, go through the paces of a multi-day regatta, and come together as a team. "I remember back east, the winter training trip was where the team sort of came together—it wasn't so much you go to get the training, it's more we become a team," head coach Mike Teti explains. "And look, they do a great job down here putting on a really good event—we love coming down."
In the men's Cal Cup, UCSB proved that their winter training is paying off against a field that included some smaller varsity programs in the form of USD and Santa Clara. The Gauchos bounced back from an early-season loss to the Broncos, and made the most of their trip to San Diego in dramatic fashion. "I didn't really want to put much stock into the heat times—you have to be careful about doing that down here," says UCSB head coach Desmond Stahl. "That last 500—that was all them. They had raced a pretty good race up to that point, and USD was clearly going to be pretty tough to catch, but they recognized the moment, and said, 'we can't wait.'"
The lightweight field saw the Purdue men and Stanford women defend their titles, while Duke won another women's Cal Cup trophy. The junior events showed that the West Coast will have some serious competitors at USRowing Youth Nationals this year, with Saugatuck making an early season statement with an open-water victory on the women's side and PNRA/Mercer just behind them, while the men's side was a 'battle of the Bay [Area]' that saw two crews fighting it out all the way to the line. Don't sleep on the Newport Aquatic Center, however. NAC finished third with a young squad that has some upside—both the NAC men and Marin women will no doubt mature quickly over the course of the next month and be ready when the time comes to grab national championship berths at regionals.
For complete results from San Diego, please visit the official website of Crew Classic.