Feb. 16, 2013
Photo Gallery (Credit-Duncan Grove Photography)
London, U.K. - The Huskies traveled ten hours for a rare in-season international race on one of the most famous courses in the United Kingdom. The location is home to the annual March showdown between the historic Oxford and Cambridge universities, known as "The Boat Race."
On a partly cloudy Saturday afternoon, with the sun peering through the clouds and little to no wind, the Huskies showed why they are the two-time defending national champions of American universities.
The afternoon started with a coin toss to determine starting stations for each shell. Sir Matthew Pinsent, a prominent rower and sports figure in the UK, umpired the toss. Pinsent won ten world championship Gold medals and four consecutive Olympic Golds for Great Britain during his rowing career. Sir Pinsent umpired the race at the Henley Cup last summer, a race the Huskies also won.
The Huskies lost the toss, putting them on the Middlesex station, while Cambridge chose the more advantageous position of the Surrey station.
The matchup was in unconventional form, with the race split into two pieces. The boats raced the first two-thirds of the race then stopped, reset, and raced the final third. Due to the favorable weather conditions, the water was flat--except for a large boat that created a wake that both squads had to maneuver during the first portion of the race.
Head coach Michael Callahan thought the Huskies handled the waves exceptionally well.
Due to a heavy amount of recent rainfall, the tideway's usual current wasn't as strong and the river was relatively calm. The Huskies gained advantage about four minutes in. Cambridge made a push, but the Huskies were able to hold them off for the victory.
Joining the Cambridge and Washington shells out on the water were a couple of large antique wooden boats, filled with Cambridge alumni and special guests. Callahan and assistant coach Rick Gherst followed behind on a coaches launch, while people lined the river to catch the action. Cheers of "Go Huskies" could be heard a few times throughout the race as several alumni came to root on the Huskies.
Callahan was happy about the effort and gave credit to sophomore coxswain Lisa Caldwell.
"We got into a good rhythm, we held our position and the guys rowed really well," said Callahan. "Lisa did a great job with the tideway and the steering."
Callahan was quick to praise Cambridge, calling them "outstanding" hosts. Cambridge even painted the oars white for the Huskies and gave them a "great" shell to race in--acccording to the coach who is now in his 6th year as the head of the Washington men's program.
As a pre-cursor to the season, Callahan was hoping that this race would give them an idea of where they are at and what they need to improve as they get ready to face a tough schedule this spring. It did just that.
"I think we are in a good spot. We wanted to know how we perform under pressure and we were pleased with how they did," said Callahan. "We're still not a finished product and it's important that we stay hungry and keep pushing and keep improving."
Overall, Callahan believes that the trip accomplished what it set out to do, and that this is an experience that will be valuable to the Huskies as they set out to defend their title.
Adds Callahan, "It was an incredible experience for everyone."
You can check out the official race report here.
Here's another race report on "Hear the Boat Sing" Blog that includes Pictures.