It's not normal for any of the crews in the Copley Cup event at the San Diego Crew Classic to be giving up racing shirts on the first day of the regatta.
That usually only happens after the Sunday grand final. But it was normal this year, and maybe from now on.
After repeated requests from the men's coaches, Crew Classic race organizers are testing out a new racing format. Instead of Saturday heats, the crews entered in the top tier men's collegiate varsity event competed in dual races, with all six boats entered this year advancing to the Sunday final.
Based on the reaction from the teams that competed, the new format was a success, even if it meant losing more shirts than normal. "I think anytime we can do something we don't normally do in the sport of rowing, it's a win," said Northeastern men's coach John Pojednic just after his athletes handed over their shirts to Yale.
"We raced Penn this morning and Yale this afternoon," he said. "We were fortunate to have a good race this morning and won by a solid margin over Penn, and then we went out and raced Yale just now. We were happy with it.
"They're the reigning national champion and we're a young boat and we raced them hard. We made a few mistakes, but we were inside of three seconds of them in March, and we'll regroup and we get to race them again.
"I like the dual racing." Pojednic said. "Youre exposed. You're out there and you can’t hide and there is no moral victory coming in second out of four, or third out of six. You either win or lose the race and you can see exactly where one team gets the better of another. None of us wants to give up the six-boat racing, so to have the event culminate with a six-boat race, it's a great format."
The athletes agree.
"We love dual racing at Yale," said senior Cole Tilden. "When you get to line up against another crew and it's just you versus them, it's great. Everyday back home, we get the 1V and 2V out and go toe-to-toe. It's something we love doing and we're happy the San Diego Crew Classic is doing it.
"Tomorrow is a little bit different story with six across, but we're all familiar with that and we're very excited for it. It's a different ball game in each scenario, but they are both very exciting," he said.