Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Windermere Classic

The big race of the weekend, of course, is the Windermere Classic in California. Stanford, Radcliffe, LMU, and Princeton will all be competing at Windermere (Sonoma State will race a masters boat). LMU is usually a bit beneath the other three crews so I expect they will find the going tough. For Stanford, Radcliffe, and Princeton this is a major race, although it’s early enough that there is still time to recover from a blown row. The crews will be working on race plans here and learning where their weaknesses lie. Despite all that, the point of a race is to win, so no one will leave her A game at home. Because these races are run Henley style, there will be no distractions as Radcliffe and Princeton duke it out for first Ivy blood. Stanford gets to see if this really is a down year or if it can continue its progress up the lightweight ranks. With a race this early we don’t know if we learn a lot or we learn a little. The crews, however, always learn a lot. If they get hammered, they know they have a lot of work to do. If they are the hammer, they can feel good for a day and then wake up to the fact that they just created an opponent bent on revenge.

They get right to it on Saturday as Stanford races Loyola and Radcliffe races Princeton in the morning, while Stanford races Princeton and Radcliffe races Loyola in the afternoon (I’d say the Tigers have the worst of that schedule). On Sunday morning Princeton and Loyola go at it as do Stanford and Radcliffe. There are live race results so if you’re not there in person, you can still sit back and enjoy this one.

Before we leave Windermere, I need to say a word about the Princeton LW2V which is also racing there. Actually, a few words. If you’ll grant me poetic license, I’d like to say (mostly) Lord Tennyson’s words:

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Ro[wed] the [eight kindred.]
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Ro[wed] the [eight kindred].

The Princeton LW2V may not be facing the “jaws of Death” or the “mouth of Hell,” but they are facing a barrelful of T9s. On Saturday they race the Stanford (ranked 15th) heavyweight 3V, followed 3 hours and twenty minutes later by a date with the Stanford novice heavyweights. The kicker comes on Sunday when they face the Cal heavyweight 3V. That’s the Cal that won NCAAs last year and is ranked 2nd this year. Of course, Princeton has everything to gain and nothing to lose. No one will expect them to win, but these races can be close (uh, or blowouts). If you’re the Princeton 2V, what could be more motivating than looking across the lane to see a bunch of sneering, slobbering heavyweights planning to have their way with you? A win is a possibility here, but it will take the right mindset and, most of all, no fear! No matter what happens, let’s remember how Tennyson’s poem ends:

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble [eight kindred].

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