April 11, 2013
Inside the Shellhouse With Seamus Labrum will appear throughout the 2013 season.
Here at Washington, spring comes at rowers fast and furious. Winter quarter ends and it is upon us. Spring Break for Husky rowers isn’t beach balls and tan lines, rather it comes in the form of seat racing, hard work, and two-a-days. With the close of winter, every rower feels the very real anticipation of the racing season coming into full view. But first, there is Spring Break and the speed that it breeds.
The sun shining, this spring was a relief from Seattle’s winter drear. Boats launch between approximately 6 – 7 AM and are thrown directly into heated racing to prep for the intensity of the spring season. Seat racing, a way to sure up boat lineups, tests speeds with different rowers in different seats to find the fastest combination - hence the name. This process can be very competitive as rowers who are pitted against one another are regularly in close contact, switching seats over the gunwales of boats. The camaraderie and brotherhood built through this process is undeniable and the results show on race day. Earning a seat is just one facet of Spring Break that makes rowing at Washington a truly pressure-packed experience. Not only do these practices enable rowers to react to any situation on the water, they make the team stronger as a whole. You must earn everything here at Washington, and when you do the reward is that much sweeter.
At the culmination of Spring Break comes the Class Day Regatta – a unique, inter squad race. Seniors, juniors, sophomores (rookies), and freshmen (grunties) battle it out for bragging rights at the Conibear Shellhouse. As the coxswain of the senior boat, I was psyched for the race as it is my final chance to race in it. My Class Day win last year as a junior was special, but do it as a senior and you become a “King of Conibear.” Class Day is always a remarkable experience, as any Washington oarsman will tell you, and my senior year was no different. The Class of 2013 sported the most contiguous lineup aside from the freshmen – an impressive feat: the Mean ’13 able to row the same lineup after four years. Being together again was incredible and winning by open water over the field was just the cherry on top.
On the Monday after Class Day, every rower and coxswain alike is amped for intercollegiate competition. This year, on the men’s side, our first race was against the Brown Bears. Having raced Brown last year at this time, we as a team knew we would be facing a formidable opponent. To ramp things up a notch, the USRowing Collegiate Poll was released within the same week and ranked UW tops in the country, with Brown sitting at the number two spot. And what better way to start off the season? The No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup would be intense and 18 mile per hour winds and considerable rolling waves at the start line on race day only complicated things. Our execution would have to be sharp. Our pressure-filled Spring Break training would yield its benefits early on. With a wind-shortened course of 1750 meters, boats pulled to the line in anticipation. Both the freshmen and second varsity boats took off down the course and posted impressive victories. In the varsity boat, we were confident in our race plan and adjusted it properly for the conditions. We ended up taking the lead in the race early and pushed open water towards the finish to seal the deal.
With the first race jitters behind us, the rowing team is looking towards a successful spring. Our first away race is at Oregon State this coming weekend, followed by another “business trip” to Stanford on April 20. The work put in throughout Spring Break will be tested in the coming weeks. Success comes with hard work, there is no secret. Washington Rowing is no different. Every year the team defines its goal. Eric Cohen (Class of ’82) supplied ours this year: no limits. And with that approach permeating throughout Conibear, anything is possible.