March 31, 2012
SEATTLE - A matchup of top-10 rowing heavyweights turned out to be drastically one-sided.
The Huskies were dominant on their home course, sweeping the No. 7 Bears in all five races Saturday morning on the Montlake Cut. This included an authoritative win in the battle of both programs' varsity eight boats, where Washington fought to an open-water victory over its Ivy League counterparts. Stroked by Mathis Jessen, the Huskies handled the rain and choppy conditions much better than the Bears, finishing the 2,000-meter course in a time of 5:57.36. Brown was almost six seconds behind at 6:03.12.
"I thought we rowed well," said men's coach Michael Callahan. "We had a bit of a challenging race course. It was a quartering head wind for most of it, pretty choppy."
The race opened with both teams trading punches right until the first 1,000. Washington took seats at the start, but then watched the Bears claw back into the race. Callahan noted his team's resolve in not losing their edge when Brown erased the Huskies' early lead. Once the teams crossed the midway point, the Huskies began to pull away before extending their lead late.
"I was definitely pleased by how our guys reacted," Callahan said. "It's a new boat. I think we felt like we were really an unknown to ourselves."
This was important for Callahan, who put together a varsity eight lineup completely different than the one that won the program's 14th National Championship last June. Gone are four key seniors and junior Conlin McCabe, who is taking the year off to compete with Rowing Canada at the 2012 London Olympics.
Washington, which began the season ranked No. 2 in the USRowing Collegiate Poll, viewed the race against Brown as an opportunity to see how it measured up with one of the nation's best programs. The Bears reached the Grand Finals of last year's Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship Regatta, where they finished sixth. The Huskies laid down a dominant row in the second varsity eight race, taking a lead almost from the start and cruising to an almost 14-second win over the Bears, 6:05.55 to 6:19.73. It was a similar story with the UW freshmen, who set a fast tempo that Brown couldn't match. The Grunties, who were coming off a strong row at the 111th annual Class Day Regatta the previous week, finished in a time of 6:02.97, well in front of Brown's 6:22.44.
In the matchup of both teams 3V8s, the Huskies proved the level of depth inside Conibear Shellhouse is still as advertised, winning with a time of 5:54.48. It was exactly 10 seconds faster than Brown, who crossed at 6:04.48.
UW also picked up a win in the combo eight, with the Husky "A" boat crossing the finish line first with a time of 6:09.36. The Husky "B" boat followed at 6:14.28, well ahead of Brown (6:28.50).
Ivy League teams frequently race in the San Diego Crew Classic, but rarely in traditional duals against West Coast programs. This made the Brown-Washington matchup so tantalizing when it was announced last month - a battle of two of the best programs from the two conferences most associated with rowing.
Brown traveled 2,490 miles from Providence to race in Seattle. The Huskies assisted the Bears by loaning them boats and oars, which helped keep travel costs down.