The open pair is always an interesting way to start the day; some programs are rowing their two best guys in the boat, while others are boating something more like a fifth boat, or even a couple frosh lightweights. To see big brawny dudes line up against a couple guys who look like 12-year-olds is a sight to see at 7AM.
Brutal semi of the week: last week at NCAA's, there was a burner of a semi, and we see the same this week in the frosh eight: Cal – Princeton – Penn – Brown – Yale – Northeastern. That batch includes three of the top four Eastern Sprints crews, and the Pac-10 winner – reads more like a fair prediction of the final. Three advance – yow. Don't be getting a hot dog during that one.
Conditions: conditions in the morning were overcast, darn cold and very fair – a 51-degree direct headwind met most of the crews at the line throughout the morning. By afternoon, the sun was out, temps crested at just over 75 degrees, and the headwind was quartering from starboard. However, since most of the reps raced in lanes 1-4 or 1-5, racing was still very fair.
The cross caught at least one crew drifting – the Minnesota 2V was dead on point at the beginning of the countdown, but their inertia had broken, and by "Go" the wind had pointed them into the buoys. Very tough way to start a rep, ouch.
Heats surprises: the main surprise of the heats in the V8 was BU going to the reps. Sporting a double bucket in 2-3 and 3-4, the crew handled their rep very well, however.
Name the paraphrased reference: "Double bucket. Double bucket."
The advancement format is changed this year, and I would say it is a very solid improvement. Previously, only one crew advanced from the heats, sending everyone else to the reps. This created a disproportionate number of crews who had to row four times throughout the weekend – in events with four heats, only four crews, the heat winners, could expect to row only three races. The new format puts eight crews directly into the semis, which seems much more fair. The reps get proportionately more harsh, with only the rep winner advancing, but it seems right that, if you can't make the semi straight from the heat, the reps are a better place to make it tougher to advance.
Harvard's V8 raced true to recent form, trailing to at least the 1000m mark, then blowing the heat wide open to win by six seconds.
Surprises: Wisco's 2V took their heat from Washington, although it is important to remember it was a two-to-advance heat, so Washington may not have gone flat out. The Washington frosh certainly did, at least for the first 1000, reaching the halfway mark at 2:57, one of the faster times of the day. Finally, the Oregon State V8 sent Cornell and Brown to the reps; without crossover races, it's hard to say if this is a true surprise, but there you go.
In one 2V heat, an oarsman caught a digger on the high strokes, and bellowed out a full-throated "YAAAAAHHHHHHH!" He got a heap of headturns from the other crews; interesting tactic.
The spares and support staff for one team were doing their own version of jamco splits, with personnel stationed at the start and each subsequent 500 meter mark with radios in constant communication. It seems like an awful lot of effort just to get splits, but I suppose information is power, so they may have an edge on folks, not sure.
At least a couple Cal strokes are working the hair thing – the 2V stroke has shaved speed stripes (see photo in the galleries), and the frosh stroke hit the hair dye recently.
Localism: Squawking at the start. A truly ornery goose all but terrorized the stakeboat kids and starting officials today; I'm not kidding, this thing is mean and dangerous.