In its second year as a Championship Regatta, ACRAs get underway this weekend in a new venue. After construction forced them away from Oklahoma City, they will be contesting club national championships in Oak Ridge. Despite the distance to travel and limited funding for these programs, 47 programs from all over the country will be competing in sweeping and sculling events.
Because it is a late season regatta and newer on the circuit, many schools have not yet figured out how to fit ACRA into the budget. Even more importantly, they haven't all been able to keep athletes from taking those summer jobs that start in late May. The result of this is reshuffled lineups and lots of smaller boats
MEN'S VARSITY EIGHT
This event is going to be all about bringing folks together as eight of the top ten men's V8s will be powering down the course in Oak Ridge this weekend. It will be the first time we get to see the east coast speed and the west coast speed all in one race and should be exciting to watch.
While defending champion Michigan seems to be the clear favorite and has been ranked #1 for the entirety of the season, it will be interesting to see if Sacramento State and UC-Davis have anything to say about that number one ranking. The rise of Purdue could also be a factor in this event. After finishing what must have been a disappointing fourth at SIRAs in April, they stormed back at Dad Vails to take a close second behind Michigan and in the process put away all three boats that finished ahead of them at SIRA. Maybe Coach Kucik has his guys peaking later in the season and at the right time for ACRA's?
WOMEN'S VARSITY EIGHT
The Women's Varsity 8 event looks to bring a little less drama to the table as it is unlikely that no one will even be within shouting distance of the dominant Grand Valley Women. After an unbelievable performance winning the Women's open event at Dad Vails, they look to cap off their season with an ACRA's win. The real race may be for the silver as second ranked Purdue and 3rd ranked New Hampshire meet for the first time this season.
MEN'S NOVICE EIGHT
Unfortunately for ACRA followers, this race will not feature the showdown between Orange Coast and Michigan who share first place votes in the poll. Michigan's frosh are the favorites but will be seeing a number of strong eights for the first time this season. Chief among their unknown competition should be the University of New Hampshire boat who finished second at the New England Rowing Championships behind always fast Trinity.
WOMEN'S NOVICE EIGHT
This should be a close one. Currently the ACRA poll places Purdue at #1, OCC at #2 and Grand Valley at #3. While OCC will not be present, Purdue and Grand Valley traded head to head victories at semi-finals this season. However, much like Purdue's MV8, as Purdue was the victor in this matchup at Vails making up 6 seconds on Grand Valley. While it appears that Grand Valley and Purdue will be duking it out at the top, there is the potential for challengers from the two California schools, Long Beach and Santa Barbara.
MEN'S LIGHTWEIGHT VARSITY EIGHT
All seven of the boats in this race have seen each other at Dad Vails two weeks ago, and based on what went down, Georgia Tech appears to be comfortable in the driver's seat. Washington University should be in the clear for second but haven't come within ten seconds of GT this spring. The word on the street however, is that Georgia Tech will be without their regular stroke seat at ACRA's and it will be interesting to see if that costs them any speed.
Racing kicks of Saturday morning with heats, followed by Semi's in the afternoon and concluding with Finals on Sunday.