A candid assessment by one EAWRC coach is probably the best description of the 2010 regular season in the EAWRC: "Princeton is very fast this year and the rest of the field is trying to keep up." Indeed, the Tigers have paced the field something fierce this season, with a 6-seat win over Brown to open the season being the closest margin against any of their EAWRC opponents this season. Perhaps tellingly, both for Princeton and the rest of the field, the #2 seeded V8 going into Sprints, Yale, finished a full 7 seconds adrift of Princeton at the midway point of the season, and there's been no sign since that Princeton has reached any kind of plateau.
"I think our training has gone well," said Princeton head coach Lori Dauphiny. "We continue to learn and adjust throughout the season. In fact, we have learned something new with each race of the season."
Yale and Brown are the challengers this year, and given the memorable racing between those two squads in recent years, both at Sprints and during the regular season, it's likely that any serious challenge in the Varsity Eight will come from one of these two crews. "Princeton is very fast and very good. I do not know if we have what it will take to compete with their speed," said Yale's Will Porter. "Brown is also very deep and very good, it will take all we have to keep up with those two, not to mention fighting off the rest of the league. We are looking forward to it."
Similar sentiments come from Brown's John Murphy. "I think that there has been good competitive racing in our league all season. These programs are as fast and close in speed as any that I can remember. We have moved ahead steadily this year and we are looking forward to racing at Camden."
Rounding out the potential finalists in the V8 are strong crews from Dartmouth, Columbia and Cornell. Talk about tight and competitive--the gap between #4 Dartmouth and #6 Cornell was all of 1.3 seconds at the close of the regular season, and with all of .8 seconds separating Columbia and Cornell a weekend earlier, you might well see the seeding order shuffled somewhat when the smoke clears on Sunday afternoon. "It seems that the EAWRC is stronger as a whole than it's been in past years, as evidenced by our results vs teams from outside the league," said Columbia's Melanie Onufrieff. "For the varsity race in particular, I think the field is really deep and expect to see hot and competitive racing in all three heats."
A look at times & margins this season would seem to indicate that Sprints is Princeton's race to lose, but clearly, none of the coaches or crews are taking anything for granted, either way.
In the JV and 3V eights, Brown sits atop the seedings, another sign of the depth of the program in Providence. The Brown JV is undefeated, but will see a stiff challenge from Princeton, who undoubtedly have gained some stiff resolve from racing their fast Varsity eight in practice all spring. The margin between the Brown and Princeton JVs was about six seats early in the season, so it's likely to once again be these two crews vying for the center spot on the podium in Camden.
Yale, Columbia, Radcliffe and Cornell are the top crews giving chase in the JV, and by extension, in the team competition and the resulting NCAA bids.
The 3V event, aka "the event formerly known as the Novice Eight," has been a little harder to handicap this season, perhaps in part to the change in moniker and classification with respect to the makeup of each particular crew. Brown, who has historically seen great success both in the Novice Eight and in gaining a lot of speed out of integrating their novices into the Varsity events as the season progresses to championship time, takes the top slot here, followed by a strong Cornell crew and the 3V from Yale. A surging Bucknell entry, Princeton and Northeastern round out the list of the top six seeds headed into the Sprints.
The remaining openweight events that are being contested at the EAWRC Sprints on Sunday are the three Varsity Four Events, the "A", "B" and "C" Varsity Fours, and the 4V Eights. Princeton, Brown and Yale lead the list of 16 crews entered in the Varsity Four "A", while Brown, Yale and Cornell are at the top of a field of 11 crews racing in the Varsity Four "B." Boston College, Brown and Pennsylvania are contesting the "C" Four, while Cornell and Navy make up a two-boat 4V final mid-afternoon.