Virginia Men’s Rowing took on the Navy, Georgetown, and George Washington crews this past weekend in Washington, DC, and the results were, well, mixed.
On Friday, despite a forecast of rain and thunder, Mother Nature dished out the best weather conditions we’ve seen in years: calm water, no rain or thunder, and a reasonable current.
It became clear early on that both GW and Georgetown programs are tapping into their potential speed to a much greater extent than in years past. Both programs’ high school recruiting and subsequent speed have increased, which is both great to see and difficult to contend with.
Friday’s racing kicked off with UVa’s novices lining up against GW’s 3rd V8 (a mix of varsity rowers and recruited freshmen). UVa rowed poorly, plain and simple. Classic case of hitting an easy rhythm and fast splits during the warm-up, only to turn the shell around and insert noise here. Lots of long faces and wound-licking on the dock afterward. VMR’s 3V8 raced better, but were bested by GW’s 4V8 by 6/10ths of a second. In a similar way, UVa’s 2V8 fell to a strong GW crew, this time by about 8 seconds.
The weekend’s highlight came in the final race of the day—the varsity 8—with Virginia and GW battling all the way down the course. UVa, as they did at the Murphy Cup, had a blazing start, surging almost to open water with a strong rhythm. According to captain Garrett Thomas, instead of panicking when the other crew sprinted, the Wahoos showed superb poise, maintaining good length and speed through the finish line. They finished about 2/3 of a length ahead of the Colonials. Wahoowa!
Saturday morning brought strong winds and sun. And illness. One of the V8’s best and strongest rowers was sick all night long and was unable to race. All of the varsity lineups were thus shifted, and the results, though pretty solid, were a bit frustrating.
The Virginia novices squared off against Navy’s 1F and 2F crews. Navy’s 1F pulled away early, leaving UVa and the Navy 2F to battle. At the 1000m mark, the Hoos were ahead and moving when the coxswain, shall we say, began exploring more of the Potomac River than one would’ve liked. The Hoos had to stop rowing and reset, at which point the Navy 2F pulled away. Once they got going again, the Hoos managed to cut into the margin, but finished the race well back. Amazingly, the crew was all smiles back on the dock. They had rowed a much better race (when they weren’t stopped dead in the water, that is), and they were eager to take on Georgetown later.
The UVa 3V and 2V were, not surprisingly, out-horsed by Navy. Good rows, good rhythms, but not enough horsepower to contend with the Midshipmen. The V8 had a great start, staying even with Navy until about the 750 mark despite a clear difference in horsepower (To give everyone an idea, UVa has two varsity-squad rowers with erg scores faster than 6:10. Navy has 20.) In the end, the Hoos finished strong but did not sprint. Navy took the contest by 9 seconds.
The Hoos were looking forward to the afternoon racing, believing they had a shot to perhaps steal a race or two from Georgetown. Unfortunately the Hoos felt the effects of the new IRA trend of creating 3V and 4V crews that are faster than the freshmen crews they could otherwise make.
UVa’s N8 and 3V8 raced Georgetown’s 3V8, and Georgetown beat ‘em both. Virginia’s crews essentially tied with each other, but unfortunately were 10 seconds behind the Hoyas. The N8 was again all smiles on the dock since they felt they had rowed their best race of the weekend. The 2V8 had a great first 1000, but were unable to stop the Hoyas from slipping ahead in the sprint, who took the race by 2 seconds.
Georgetown’s varsity 8 had a strong row (they had lost by less than a length to Navy the day before), and with a shorthanded V8, the Hoos were unable to repeat last year’s performance of beating the Hoyas. Georgetown took the race by 5 seconds.
In all, the weekend was, as always, a learning experience. The Hoos maintained no illusions of knocking off the majority of the competition. Instead, the chance to line up against fast crews and to deal effectively with the enormous distraction they provided was the top priority.
As always, the team thanks all the parents, alumni, and friends for coming out to watch the rowing and support the athletes. Go Hoos Go!