Hoos Take on Philly
For the first time in who-knows-how-many years, the weather in Philadelphia—for the 2015 Dad Vail Regatta—was good! No 25 mph winds, no torrential storms, just calm water and pleasant temperatures.
It was a little disconcerting.
The competition, however, was the same as always: extremely intense. Deep fields made for a lot of nail biting. The Dad Vail organizers have improved the quality of the regatta over the years, and it becomes a little more professional with every return trip.
Video link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9CwUUHUHwY
The 1X event, an exhibition event in past years, has turned into a legitimately cutthroat race. The UVa 1Xs (Jamie Falter and Matt Whitesell) faced a deep field (28 entries total). Jamie was knocked out in the heat, while Matt survived, only to be knocked out in the semifinals.
In the regatta’s deepest event, UVa’s varsity 4 (field of 59 crews!) amazingly made it through both the heats and a repechage. They were unable to advance through the semi on Sunday, however, and their regatta was finished.
The SIRA-winning novice 4 was broken up for Dad Vails, with various rowers ending up in either the varsity lightweight 4, the novice 4, or the novice 8. Just a few days before the regatta, the new N4 was having trouble rowing straight much less fast. Staring down a field of 48 crews at the Vail, prospects were bleak. With two days of training remaining, however, the engines started purring, and the crew began moving pretty well. The crew had no trouble advancing through both the heats and semis, and amazingly found themselves in the event’s grand final. And once there, they did NOT finish in last place! From lane 1, the crew managed a 5th place finish, and the athletes were happy with their performance for the weekend.
The varsity lightweight 4 faced a field of 23 entries in a very tight event. The crew squeaked out of the heats, but were unable to advance through the semis, finishing 4th in their final trip down the course for the weekend.
For several years running now, all three of UVa’s 8s (V8, 2V8, N8) advanced to their respective grand finals, and though each crew had hoped to bring home medals, only the 2V8 managed to secure them.
The novice 8’s heat was almost a deal breaker. The guys started well and were easily leading the field. At the bridge, however, the turn proved tricky, and the crew drifted into the next lane. They spent the rest of the race pinballing down the course and narrowly escaped with a win. The steering issues were fixed in the semis and final, however, as the coxswain nailed the turn in both races! The grand final was a wild affair, with the Western Ontario crew drifting out of their lane and into Purdue, forcing both crews to stop rowing. WO was disqualified. The Hoos missed a medal by about a half deck, unfortunately, finishing 4th. The official results show them finishing 5th, however, (27 entries overall) because a bronze medal was awarded to Purdue following a protest.
The 2V8 had been logging solid practices leading up to the regatta, so it was no surprise to see them advance through the heats and semis with relative ease. In the grand final, the crew had a poor start and were in 4th place, down by at least a length to the 3rd place crew. Not wishing to risk life and limb, this coach stopped pedaling to keep up with the race, assuming the crew’s goose was cooked. A few minutes later, as I eased up to the grandstands to find out which crews had won medals, I was shocked to see the Hoos pulling into the awards dock! They had sprinted through Michigan in the last 500 meters and had seized a bronze medal (18 entries overall)! Yeah Wahoos!
The varsity 8 was ranked 4th coming in to the regatta. They had little trouble advancing through the heats, as did all the top-ranked crews. In the semifinal, the guys traded bow balls with Drexel all the way down the course, finishing 3/10ths of a second behind the Dragons. Hoping to build on the 2V8’s momentum, the crew was gunning for a second medal in the 8s. Unfortunately the guys were unable to get by Drexel in the grand final, finishing 4th (29 entries overall) just 2 seconds out of the medals. The FIT V8 faced a similar situation as UVa’s 2V8: they were down to Michigan at the 1000 by open water. In the second half of the race, however, they sprinted through the Wolverines and won gold by 8/10ths of a second. Pretty impressive.
With final exams finally behind them, UVa Rowing has been training in Charlottesville in preparation for the American Collegiate Rowing Association Championships, which are coming up this weekend. The crew has just arrived in Gainesville, GA, and will continue training and tapering for the regatta. Like every year, hopes are high for quality racing.
And as always, the Hoos thank all the parents and friends who came to the Dad Vail Regatta. Your support means the world to the athletes.