Veteran coach Bill Leavitt was sitting in his car at the Cooper River starting line, and I asked what he thought about the V8.
"As some football announcer or another likes to say, 'There is a lot of parity.'" Bill is not kidding; the to three in the two-to-the-semiV8 heats hit the line thusly:
1 Washington 05:35.951
2 Brown 05:36.656
3 Syracuse 05:48.820
1 California 05:37.833
2 Princeton 05:38.988
3 Navy 05:40.837
1 Cornell 05:37.860
2 Yale 05:38.295
3 Wisconsin 05:38.657
1 Harvard 05:36.361
2 Stanford 05:36.588
3 Michigan 05:48.282
We know you can't put too much stock in times, but the weatherman might say that the conditions kept things tight. A warm morning turned into a hot high noon and then a blistering afternoon, but the hot tailwind that came with it made for fair racing and fast times throughout the day; the heat index inside that tailwind had to be fairly formidable. row2k spent most of the day at the starting line bagging photos of crews; the area is in a very public area of a public park, but the starting area was uncharacteristically empty of folks taking walks and checking out the scene, without question due to the considerable heat, which peaked in the low to mid 90s mid-afternoon.
The stunner here is Cornell's heat victory; tho yours truly did not write our preview, I did make a bid to have Cornell mentioned, albeit after deadline; the Big Red made me look good today. Of the top 12 fastest heat times above, both Navy and Syracuse stumbled in the reps, as Northeastern nipped Navy, and Oregon State topped Syracuse by 2.4 seconds to join everyone else listed above in the A-B semis.
And as solid as the first semi of Michigan, Princeton, Washington, Cornell, Stanford, and Northeastern reads, the second semi is complete madness: all three Eastern Sprints medalist, plus Cal and Brown ? owwwwww. Forget about air temps, the Cooper River at about noon tomorrow is going to be even hotter along the water line.
One sidebar to the OSU-Syracuse rep occurred at the starting line when a Syracuse oarsman discovered that he was missing a spacer on his rigger, and mentioned it to the starting officials. In the next lane over, the Oregon State coxswain said she had one, and offered it to Syracuse; the spacer was passed to the OSU bowseat, an official pulled in to grab it, motored over to the Syracuse boat, and it was passed down the boat in turn.
The starting official asked the other crews to wait, and when the process was complete, thanked the OSU crew for their sportsmanship. Oregon State then went on to win the rep and advance to the A-B semis; sometimes nice guys finish first. Unless, of course, there was some sort of hex on that spacer? just kidding; well done all around OSU.
Speaking of sportsmanship, I'll be posting a photo in the galleries tonight of three guys standing near the starting line, each in turn wearing a Harvard hat, a Yale hat, and a Cornell hat. These crew are mortal enemies on the water, but these were three hardcore Quad Cities junior program dads hanging out together while merely incidentally wearing the team colors of their sons.
The Yale dad explained that while he attends the IRA, his wife is attending the Youth Nationals, where their daughter is racing; a classic rowing parent division of labor effort, well done.
The frosh eight looks like it could be as tight as the V8; winning heat times across the four heats were within a second and a half. The 2V looks almost identical, and was only about a second faster than the 1F times; the calls for an old-school 16-across 2V/1F final should start making the rounds of alumni reunions these next few weeks.
Another "surprise" qualifier might be the GW frosh eight, which won the afternoon rep over Navy, Dartmouth, and Michigan. GW also won the frosh four rep; pretty good afternoon
This year's IRA saw the Varsity Four run in a time trial format for the first time; the primary reason for the adoption of a time trial is the utter lack of seeding information in the event; thus a time trial to allow all crews an equal shot at establishing their advancement, avoiding stacked and weak heats alike. One crew may be a program's top four athletes, another their second novices, another four guys from the lightweight 2V, another a combo boat. Trying to seed this is like herding lower boats at the first Flick of the year; you can try it, but it won't be easy, and in the end alignment will be approximate.
The time trial, which was run from the 1750 meter mark to the finish to allow marshalling and a running start, went off mostly without a hitch. The powerhouse timing guys headed out to the start an hour early to set up, in between the ongoing heats Al Wachlin set up a headrace-style chute with three sets of marker buoys, and the crews were brought in single file from the warmup area to the start and sent down two adjacent lanes, switching between the two, every 30 seconds or so. In the end there was some close racing, but the fault lines between advancement levels were pretty clear.
Racing resumes at 7am tomorrow morning with the heats of the light women's eight; see you there.