Nov. 6, 2011
SEATTLE - All throughout the fall, the Washington crew program has emphasized making significant speed gains in their development plan. As the distance season came to a close at the Head of the Lake Regatta on Sunday, the Huskies put those training efforts into action.
Despite an early November chill that covered the Conibear Shellhouse docks with frost and had rowers dressed in multiple layers, the Huskies had no problems making a near clean sweep of the regatta. Overall, the Huskies won six of eight collegiate events on Lake Union.
The Washington men's varsity eight finished the 3.1 mile course in a time of 15:39.06, nearly a full minute ahead of the Huskies "B" boat. More importantly, it was well in front of Pac-12 rival Oregon State, which finished in 16:39.30.
During the week, men's coach Michael Callahan made a handful of switches to the lineup, all of which seemed to jell on Sunday. One of those changes was a new coxswain, with Seamus Labrum taking over for Sam Ojserkis, who steered the Huskies to a National Championship last June. The swap was previously scripted, but Callahan playfully note the team might home something of a "QB controversy" on their hands.
"We were looking at it as a way to measure our progress," Callahan said. "We wanted to see improvements technically and with our base speed.
"It was really fun to see [senior] Tom Lehmann in there stroking and the boat had some pop. We were looking for new life in the boat and wanted to give Tom this opportunity."
Although the margin was slimmer in the women's varsity eight classification, the Huskies had no problems dispatching cross-state rival Washington State. The UW boat cruised through with a time of 17:51.34, more than five seconds in front of the Cougars.
More importantly for the Husky crew program, nearly the entire roster had the opportunity to race in the HOTL. For younger rowers, this competition was a critical barometer heading into winter training.
"I would say that today was a good check for the freshmen in terms of where they are relative to their competition," said women's novice coach Conor Bullis. "It was great for them to get a race under their belts."
Making race boats for the spring is a challenge in itself at Washington, which is why this regatta is important for coaches to test the program's depth. Judging by the results Sunday, which featured wins by the M2V8, M3V8, MV4 and W3V8, the Huskies have plenty of speed in reserve at Conibear Shellhouse.