April 9, 2011
LEWISTON, Idaho - Bob Ernst figured he had a fast boat somewhere inside Conibear Shellhouse. He knew he had talented rowers. Putting the combination together, though, was the tricky part.
The Huskies re-discovered their speed with a sweep over their rivals from the Palouse on Saturday, winning all six races against Washington State on the Snake River to ensure the trophy from the Apple Cup dual returns to Seattle.
The long-time Washington women's coach resulted to old-fashioned rowing metrics to select his boats this week - lots and lots of seat-racing. Ernst waited until Friday morning to fashion his top two boats, and was pleased with how the results played out on the Palouse.
In the Apple Cup dual, the varsity 8+ defeated their counterparts from WSU, 6:37 to 6:43. The six-second margin was a drastic improvement for the Huskies, who beat the Cougars by just a second in last week's race at the San Diego Crew Classic. The slim victory had the Huskies focused on quality training back in Seattle, and it showed against the Cougars.
"One second is nothing," Ernst said. "I think we had pretty good personnel, so there was no point coming all the way out here to accept a one-second victory."
The victory gave the Huskies redemption after the Cougars came to Seattle last year and upended Washington on the Montlake Cut.
The race of the morning came with the second varsity 8, which saw both teams fight each other down the 2,000-meter course. Washington ended up with a one-second victory (6:49 to 6:50), a margin so close officials had to consult a photograph of the finish to ensure the Huskies victory.
"That JV crewed rowed their butts off to win it by one second," Ernst said. "That was the toughest race of the day. Wasn't a beautiful race, but it was the gut check of the year."
None of the other Husky races offered the drama, but the results were no less palatable. In the varsity 4 category, the UW "A" and "B" boats found tough competition between each other, but had no problems dispatching the two other Cougar fours.
The novice eight continued its winning ways with a six-second victory (7:11 to 7:17) against the Cougars. Washington's freshmen have now won both of their races to start the spring season.
UW is back on the water in two weeks with the highly anticipated Cal Dual. The Huskies split the four races between the Golden Bears last year at Redwood Shores, but fell in the varsity 8+ race.
Ernst said the Huskies' decision to race in San Diego (where the Huskies finished fifth) set goals for the level of speed his boats needed to achieve throughout the year.
"It's the reason you have tough races at the beginning of the year," Ernst said.