Sunday, October 29, 2006

Princeton Chase Results

Reports from the Princeton Chase today described an extremely windy course with a dominant headwind for the last third that caused steering problems and collisions throughout the day. The fours were canceled along with the small boats.

It was a big day for Princeton as the Tigers finished 1 - 2 in the lightweight competition. The first Princeton boat finished over a minute ahead of third place Radcliffe while the second Princeton boat was 25 seconds ahead. Radcliffe, in turn, was 4 seconds ahead of Georgetown which was 23 seconds ahead of MIT. A third Princeton boat rounded out the lightweight field. Princeton must have some talent this year as it appears that the only boat capable of gaining on Princeton is, well, Princeton. The Princeton B boat was 49 seconds back from the A boat at the Head of the Potomac and has now moved to within 37 seconds. When these two crews mix and match in the spring the result has the potential to be extremely fast. To add a little more perspective, the Tiger A boat beat the Cornell, GW, BC, and Rutgers A heavyweights, while the Princeton B boat beat the Trinity, Villanova, and MIT A heavyweight boats. The top lightweight boat was a bit further back in the field this year than last, but given the wind we would expect that.

Another winner appears to be Georgetown. They closed the gap substantially on Radcliffe since Boston while moving ahead of MIT.

Although there is some racing left, the Chase closes the door on the fall races with the potential to tell us anything about the relative speed of lightweight crews. At this point we should look back at last year's Chase, keeping in mind the final spring results. Princeton also won last year (Wisconsin did not compete in either 2005 or 2006) and also beat Radcliffe by about a minute (52 seconds). Georgetown was second last year, 9 seconds ahead of Radcliffe. (Recently, Radcliffe seems to have had some problems with this race.) Princeton beat quite a few heavyweight A boats last year as well (although this year there was a lightweight killer wind).

So what does all of this tell us? I think it mostly tells us who to measure spring progress against. This spring that initial measuring stick will pretty clearly be Princeton. On the other hand, last spring the measuring stick was Wisconsin, yet we know that Wisconsin typically starts slow and they stayed true to form as Radcliffe and Princeton beat the Badgers at Knecht. Mostly what it tells us is that the fall and spring seasons are very different. Crews that excel rowing 5000 meters at a controlled 30 spm, can turn into screaming banshees, unable to control slides or match catches, in the heat of a sprint race while rowing a 36 or 38. Head races are rowed at that Goldilocks pace in which the boat is going fast enough to set it and keep the oars off the water, but not so high and hard that you think you can't go on after the first 30 strokes. Nonetheless, before you can row well high and hard, you have to row Goldilocks well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wisco lights won Gold medals in the Open Women's Pair and Light Four at the head of the Iowa. They finished 8th in the Open wpmen's eight race.
The Badgers actually had the 2nd and 3rd fastest times of the day in the pair, but penalties moved the 3rd fastest pair on the water into gold medal position. Badgers finished 1st, 2nd and 4th in the LW4+, but 2nd place crew was penalized and moved into third.