Given the depth of the field, there were arguably only a couple small surprises in the racing this morning. Row2k was at the starting line, so rather than reporting on races of which I saw the first dozen strokes, I’ll let the results and splits speak for what happened on the racecourse, and retreat to the dustier corners of gossip and hearsay with a rapid fire report from the starting area.
In the second heat of the DI Eights, as the crews sat waiting for the start, blades squared and buried, the Michigan four seat made a quick and crucial observation and comment to the Michigan five seat: "Your oar is upside down." The port rower was sitting fully ready with the bottom edge of their hatchet blade peeking just out of the water. She flipped it over, the two squashed a laugh, and off they went.
Conditions were very good for racing; temps were down a bit from the last couple days, a slight tail became a slight head as racing progressed, and the flow on the river seemed down to manageable levels. As of a couple days ago, the flow was thought to be worth a second or two per 500 from lane 6 to 1 (favoring 6); there is still some flow, but it looks now like the course is pretty reasonable.
The DII two-boat dual format can be a harsh way to open the racing if you’re up against a fast-starting crew. The WWU crew in the first heat met this description, and had a full length or more before the crews were out of the 100 meter red buoy section of the course. Goodbye…
It’s a long morning out there working the stakes; one stakeboat person took advantage of the 15 minute centers and light headwind to grab a quick smoke; nicotine is a tough taskmaster.
Sportswomanship at the line: in their two-boater heat, the Mercyhurst and Nova Southeastern fours enthusiastically wished each other good luck in the race.
The racing went off without a hitch save for a broken footstretcher in the Michigan 2V. The Michigan rigger was ferried to the start with a replacement stretcher, and the heat was delayed, pushing it back until after the first heat of the fours.
Sounds like no big deal, unless you’re Bob Whitford, and have to move the entire starting platform, seven lanes of it, forward several feet to accommodate the fours heat, then back several feet to accommodate the delayed eights race, then forward again to accommodate the rest of the fours heats. All that while doing the aligning as well – pulled it off.
At NCAA’s, every shell must have the school name in lettering on both sides of the boat next to the coxswain’s seat. One assumes the folks from Harvard-Radcliffe are okay at spelling, so it was either the representation of an unrepentant Boston Brahmin accent, or a paucity of R’s at the hardware store, but the school name on their four read thusly: “Harvad-Radcliffe.”
Oops: a crew racing in a borrowed shell backed into the starting gates a little hot, and rammed the dock with the stern of the shell enough that they rode up on the dock a bit. Damage appeared limited to a nick or small ding, but here’s the thing: the stakeboat person manning the lane they played chicken with was a member of the crew that races in that very hull during the year. Stealthy it wasn’t; still, it could have been worse.
No time like the present: I don’t remember the crew, but someone in the bowseat of a four moved their footstretchers shortly after the "Three minutes" call.
In the evening reps, you can expect the unexpected, but nobody expected a group of nude cliffdivers to leap into the water before the last rep of the evening. The event featured mostly a flash of tan lines and a loud splash, and was almost over before it began, but it got folks attention.
And in an event that almost didn’t happen, the spare pairs raced tonight in a couple formats. The DIII schools put together two mixed eights who duked it out for 2k – final margin about 1.5 lengths – and the DI schools sent their spare pairs out for two heats of six, which actually featured some decent rowing, and even better steering – all the crews stayed in their lanes, and pretty much in the middle of their lanes. It was only a couple years ago that a spare pair that started in lane two made it over to lane seven before finishing in lane five; I’m not sure if the pairs are a reliable indicator of increased depth in the sport, but it’s not an unreasonable thesis.