July 2, 2000
HENLEY-on-THAMES, England - The Washington women's varsity eight crew wrote its name in the history books as it defeated the University of Victoria (Canada) in the grande final of the inaugural women's open eight race at the Henley Royal Regatta. The Huskies captured the Henley Prize, the first women's trophy awarded since the historic men's regatta began in 1839.
In December 1999, the Henley Stewards decided to elevate the two-year old women's invitational race, that had been established to showcase international crews, to a full-fledged open-class prize event.
The Huskies covered the 2,112-meter Thames River course in a time of 7 minutes, 29 seconds, crossing the finish line half a boat-length ahead of Victoria. The crews traded the lead all the way down the course and kept it only one foot apart over the last quarter of the race before the Huskies gradually began to break away towards the finish.
"This was an awesome race," said Husky head coach Jan Harville. "It's interesting how they keep splits here. At each marker on the course, signs go up saying who's ahead. We were ahead at the first mark by a foot. Then at the second marker, Victoria was ahead by a foot and then we went up again. I told our crew that Victoria had a fast boat and we would have to take the race away from them. We did it in the last 500 meters of the race. I am so proud that our crew could end its season this way. It was a tremendous opportunity to be here and represent the University of Washington."
The rowers echoed Harville's sentiment as they came off the water.
"It was a great way to end my career as a Husky," said senior Vanessa Tavalero, who rows in the five seat.
Ironically, just as the Huskies pulled into the dock, they were greeted by a Seattle-sized downpour of rain.
The Husky varsity eight, which was ranked No. 1 in the country until the final week of the regular season, concludes its 2000 campaign with a near-perfect record. The Henley Prize caps a year in which the Huskies claimed gold medals at the San Diego Crew Classic, the Windermere Cup and the Pac-10 Championships, along with a silver medal at the NCAA Championships. Their lone loss of the year was to Brown in the grande final at the NCAA regatta.
Henley Royal Regatta
Sunday, July 2, 2000
Henley Prize Grande Final Results (margin, time)
Univ. of Washington, USA defeated Univ. of Victoria, Canada (1/2 length, 7:29).
UW lineup: cox-Mary Whipple, stroke-Sabina Telenska, 7-Nicole Borges, 6-Rika Geyser,
5-Vanessa Tavalero, 4-Anna Mickelson, 3-Lindsey Horton, 2-Theresa Nygren-Birkholz,
Note: The Washington men's program has sent several crews to compete at Henley, with the first in 1958 under coach Al Ulbrickson. Fifteen years later in 1973, Dick Erickson's varsity crew lost to the Soviet eight in the Grand Challenge. They returned in 1977 and became the first U.S. crew to win the Grand Challenge when it beat the British National Crew. Recently, current head mens coach Bob Ernst has taken crews in 1991, '95 and '97.