Nov. 8, 2009
SEATTLE - The fall rowing season has come to an end, and the University of Washington could not be more pleased with how it transpired.
Both the men's and women's programs had an outstanding showing at the Head of the Lake Regatta on Sunday. Not only did they win the crucial events, but that confidence gained will hopefully propel both teams through winter training and to the start of the spring racing season.
For the women's team, a packed field of collegiate teams at the regatta offered a stiff test. Yet the Huskies answered each one handily, winning events in the major categories - collegiate varsity eight, collegiate JV eight, and the collegiate open four. Washington also took second in the third varsity eight.
"That's kind of what we set out to do today. Mission accomplished," said women's coach and rowing director Bob Ernst. "This particular event is important to our program. We raced the best possible competition, full-tilt for us. It's a race. Everyone gets to row. We had a great day for it."
In the varsity eight, the women cruised to an 8-second win over second-place Washington State, finishing the 3.1 mile course on Lake Union in 17:41.64. The lineup for the boat featured some new wrinkles compared to the eight the Huskies sent to Boston for the Head of the Charles.
Perhaps the most intriguing for Ernst was the JV victory. Using a lineup mostly composed of sophomores, the eight dominated the field for a near 30-second victory over the Cougars. Going into winter training, Ernst noted these would be the group he hopes could offer a rigorous challenge to the varsity eight.
"They were certainly dominant in their event. Had a faster time than most of the varsities," Ernst said. "We're making progress. Everyone will have to make a lot more progress (going into the spring)."
The men fared similarly well in their events. In the marquee (the collegiate eight), the Huskies crossed the finish line in 15:48.77, besting their freshman squad (16:15.02) for first place. The University of Victoria was the third-place finisher at 16:23.06.
Washington did not race with a traditional varsity eight lineup like it used at the Head of the Charles, instead splitting up teams to check out different boat combinations. Coming away from the Head of the Lake, Coach Michael Callahan felt his team hit every checklist going in.
"One of our goals was to have a good Head of the Lake. This was an opportunity to race to show their hard work," Callahan said. "It's almost like a celebration. Go out and have fun with it. This is why we train so hard. I want you to exude it. That was the attitude we were taking into it. I could tell there was some real snap to the teams. We wanted to show what we could do."
The Huskies were the top-three finishers in the Open four as well, sweeping those spots with times of 16:59.94, 17:15.75, 17:28.83, respectively. The University of British Columbia was the first non-Husky boat to cross, finishing in fourth place at 18:18.83.
Another area of satisfaction with Callahan was how well his underclassmen rowed on Sunday, particularly the sophomores.
For the freshmen, racing for the first time under the Washington banner, he felt the group acquitted itself to the course and the conditions of collegiate competition. The other was how well his coxswain maneuvered the race course, along with their overall work this fall. It should make for an interesting competition during the winter, considering how close each one is in terms of handling race strategy and course management.
"If you had a good coxswain, it made a difference," Callahan said. "Two very tricky turns. Need to be navigated well. Really pleased with how they performed."
Callahan also praised the Lake Washington Rowing Club for putting on a strong event. The program is fond of the regatta because it provides a flavor of Northwest rowing with the number of local schools, clubs, etc., that receive invites. The other plus is the vehicle it provides Washington for full rower participation, such as racing in fours.
"It allows everyone to get on the race course," Callahan said, "and show what we can do."
For complete results, check out the Head of the Lake's results page.
Head of the Lake Regatta Winning Results (UW only)
Men's Collegiate/Open 8+
1. UW "B" Boat: 15:48.77
Women's Collegiate/Open 8+
1. UW "A" Boat: 17:41.64
Women's Collegiate/JV 8+
1. UW: 18:29.05
Men's Collegiate/Open 4+
1. UW "A" Boat: 16:59.94
Women's Collegiate/Open 4+
1. UW "A" Boat: 20:14.73