Saturday, March 25, 2006

Windermere Classic - Day One

Already the rankings shuffle.

Saturday dawned cold and blustery at Redwood Shores, California - not a particularly good day to be a lightweight. There was a headwind at times blowing, at other times screaming, down the course, and spectators were bundled against the cold (cold for California, at least). Stanford and Loyola pulled into the stake boats for the first lightweight race of the day. Loyola put a bit of a scare into Stanford, leading by about half a length at the halfway point, but Stanford came on in the second 1000 to win by 12 seconds.

Next up was the Radcliffe/Princeton duel, a race both crews had to have been looking at since the Fall season ended. The crews were even off the start and through the first 500. By the halfway point Princeton held a half boat length lead. As the crews came through the bridge at 900 meters to go, they were battered by the headwind. Radcliffe clearly handled the conditions better as they pulled even with Princeton by 500 to go, and then hammered the point home over the last 500, winning by six seconds. As they neared the finish line Radcliffe was overstroking Princeton by what seemed like at least two beats per second. Princeton clearly seemed to be affected by the weather, but it was no different for Radcliffe who did what they needed to do and really started their season in fine fashion. Both crews raced again later in the day (Princeton v Stanford and Radcliffe v Loyola) but the results haven't been posted. Judging by times from the earlier races, Princeton and Radcliffe should both be winners.

So Princeton falls a notch in the rankings. As a I said before, these are early season rankings so you can't read too much into them, but six seconds is a lot. I'm sure Princeton is shaking their heads at the bad race they rowed, and are awfully happy they'll met Radcliffe four more times before the season ends. Princeton lost this race in the final 500 meters so the crew knows what it has to do before the Knecht Cup - and it'll be painful. No doubt adding to that pain will be some serious seat racing. If Princeton can't bring the rate up, and bring it up effectively, they're toast. Surely conditions played a part, and I doubt Princeton will lose to Radcliffe by six seconds again. Sometimes having a protected lake to practice on isn't a good thing.

Radcliffe now moves up to number two. They rowed a strong, no fear race, didn't get rattled when trailing, battled through the conditions, and won an impressive victory. There's more racing yet to come, but Radcliffe should leave Windermere as the winning lightweight eight. The Black and White figured something out over the winter, or maybe they're just more of a sprint crew than a head race crew, but they made up a good piece of ground on Princeton. Their sprint looked good, but they probably don't want to start every race down by 3 seconds at the halfway point, so they'll do some work on the second 500. Radcliffe has some young rowers in the boat (I wonder how young?) and they list 20 freshmen on their roster. With that many freshmen they can't help but put out a good freshmen eight. Given some pretty good results for Princeton's frosh this weekend, that event at Sprints could be a barnburner.

You may be wondering about the Princeton 2V? They raced the Stanford 3V, losing by 24 seconds (I think that's right, the Jamco times don't have the correct crews listed), and the Stanford novice scratched, giving them a row over in the afternoon. In the first race they just beat the 1V's time. That's either a sign of Princeton's depth or a sign that the 1V had a bad race. Quite honestly, with the headwind today, the 2V never really had a chance against heavies.

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