Thursday, October 19, 2006

Head of the Charles Preview - Fours

The 2006 Head of the Charles lightweight fours starting order reflects the dominance of last year's Canadian crews. The University of Victoria starts 1st followed by Undine Barge and Brock University. It's not until the 6th starting place that we get to an American crew - Princeton University. Last spring Princeton was pretty much the uncontested fours champion so U Vic and Brock must have been awfully fast (or Princeton didn't find its lineup until later in the year). Princeton is the only returning American collegiate competitor from last year.

With none of their traditional foes near them, the Tigers will find themselves wondering just how fast their quarry and their pursuers are. CRI, who starts right ahead of Princeton, has won the Head of the Housatonic and the Textile River Regatta this fall beating, among others, UMass and MIT. Starting behind the Tigers is Pacific Lutheran, a program that boated lightweight boats in 2004 and 2005. Pacific Lutheran is followed by Georgia State who won the Chattanooga Head Race this fall. Another Canadian crew, the University of British Columbia follows Georgia State.

A bit of information on U Vic and UBC comes from the Fraser Fours Regatta run last weekend to celebrate the opening of UBC's new boathouse. The two lightweight fours went at it on a shortened course that was probably around 2,500 meters. U Vic won by just over a second. Yikes! That sounds like two fast crews!

Separated from UBC by Bubbly Creek is Pittsburgh and URI. Pitt had a good but somewhat inconsistent spring season and they head to Boston trying to build on a big victory at the Head of the Ohio. The Panthers took that one by over 30 seconds. After losing their lightweight coach this year, URI seems to be going through a bit of a transition as we haven't seen them put together a light eight this fall. The four then, should have some of their best rowers and a good showing might help convince the program to keep some emphasis on the lightweights.

Starting in the rear of the field, 15th and 16th, are Tulsa and Penn State. Tulsa mopped up at the Head of the Oklahoma and should show the East that some good quality crews can come out of the south-central part of the country. Penn State raced an eight at the Head of the Ohio, but we haven't seen them put out a light four yet. No doubt they've culled the best rowers from the light eight for their Charles four.

This will be a difficult race for the American college crews. U Vic and Undine blew away the field last year and they're back. U Vic started 11th in 2005 and worked their way through the field, effectively blindsiding Undine. Starting 2nd this year, Undine won't let that happen again. To get some sense of what these crews are capable of, one need only recall that Undine is home to Meghan Sarbanis who took Lisa Schlenker to three races for the right to represent the US as the lightweight single sculler at Worlds. I'm told that Meg will be in the Undine boat, along with three other rowers who are, if anything, even stronger than last year's crew. (They've been rowing mornings in Philadelphia, under cover of darkness.) For its part, U Vic usually has a few Canadian national teamers in the boat.

Princeton, however, may have a little bulletin board material. After last year's Head of the Charles, a proud University of Victoria father posted a picture in his blog of the U Vic light four passing another boat saying, "they only took about two strokes to whip past this boat." "This boat" sure looks like Princeton to me.

That's the 2006 Head of the Charles preview. Now it's time to load the trailer, pack the truck, and get to Boston because soon it'll all be over but the cryin'.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Way to go PITT!!