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


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