Sunday, December 31, 2006

Weigh-in Presentation at the USRowing Convention

At the USRowing Convention in Portland a few weeks ago, Dr. Tim Hosea of the USRowing Medical Commission made a presentation on lightweights, weigh-ins, and weight loss. A year ago the Commission began working on a set of procedures for safe weight loss. The presentation took the form of a discussion, more than a specific recommendation, although guidelines were set out. Dr. Hosea was kind enough to send me the presentation (above) although without the benefit of hearing Dr. Hosea's presentation, some of the slides are a bit cryptic. With that caveat, here are a few highlights:

  • The Commission sees a need for some "fairly specific" guidelines for weight loss.

  • A lightweight female body fat percentage of 12.4% was shown, which appears to be an average of rowers at the Australian National Championships. This is an interesting number as it seems to fall in the "essential fat" range of some body fat percentage charts.

  • The NCAA is quite familiar with wrestling and wrestlers' weight loss practices, and seems to paint lightweight rowing with the same brush. While there is much to be learned from the wrestling experience (as this presentation points out), in terms of practices and appropriate institutional control I think rowing is much better.

  • The presentation states that female "rowers [are] more prone to disturbing eating practices and weight control methods than males." Since females in the general population are more prone to eating disorders than males, it's not clear what this tells us.

  • A convincing case is made for the dangers of dehydration.

  • There is a discussion of performance degradation with rapid weight loss.

  • Some suggestions are made about how to preselect lightweights based on body fat percentages at weight and the importance of avoiding large differences between in-season and off-season weight.

  • Princeton's Managed Weight Certification Program is presented.

Although the top lightweight programs seem to do a pretty good job of policing their athletes' weight loss practices, I think there would be some real benefits to having USRowing guidelines in place. First is perhaps the most obvious - those programs without dedicated lightweight programs and little expertise in weight loss practices will have guidelines to follow. A secondary benefit, however, relates to the NCAA. Governing bodies exist to enforce rules, therefore nothing pleases them more than to have rules to enforce. A set of rules for lightweights will show the NCAA that the sport is safe and under control, and rules developed by rowers will be much better than those that might be developed by an NCAA committee. The guidelines would be another tool to use to continue chipping away at the NCAA bias against lightweights.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fixed vs. Dynamic Ergs

As I mentioned in my last post, Ivan Hooper, Sports Medicine/Sports Science coordinator for Rowing

Australia and Sports Physiotherapist at the Australian Institute of Sport, wrote a review of some studies in June of this year that looked at erg use. This review prompted several emails to Hooper on the merits of static vs. dynamic ergs. Hooper then wrote a follow-on piece in response.

In his response, Hooper states that:

- If you sit at front-stops on an erg and then push your legs down you move backwards relative to room by an amount equal to your leg length

- If you sit at front-stops in a single and then push your legs down (oars out of the water) you only move backwards relative to the bank by an amount ~20% of your leg length - the rest of the motion is taken by the boat moving away from you.

He goes on to note that:

The weight of the Rowperfect mobile power head is approximately 19kg, which is not that dissimilar to the weight of a single scull. This is the weight that an athlete’s leg drive is moving every stroke. Hence the manufacturer’s claims that the mechanics of the Rowperfect and on water rowing are similar.

Hooper says that the weight of a Concept II erg with sliders is about 35kg, heavier than a single and heavier than a Rowperfect. This leads him to believe that "sliders probably go a long way to replicating the mechanics of on water rowing, but still involve forces nearly double that of the Rowperfect." He makes several other points when discussing a static erg:

This kinetic energy, and / or inertia, has to decrease to zero for a change in direction to occur, thus something has to exert or absorb forces. Coming forward this force is absorbed by passive tissue structures of the knees resulting in an 8-10% increased leg compression (Kleshnev, 2005). It is reasonable to assume that the lumbar spine also absorbs some of this kinetic energy, creating an increase in lumbar flexion. Holt et al (2003) supported this when studying the effects of prolonged ergometer rowing. Over a 60 minute piece there were significant increases in the lumbar spine range of motion at the catch and total lumbar spine range of motion.

At the finish it is the large hip flexors that act to decrease and reverse the kinetic energy of the trunk (Rekers, 2006). This places very high loads on the lumbar spine, equivalent to doing prolonged sit ups. This places large sheer forces across the structures of the lumbar spine, potentially contributing to injury (Stallard, 1994).

When he discusses Kleshnev's findings that the legs work in a slower, static motion on a stationary erg, he says that

This may be an aspect that coaches wish to utilise if they are looking to enhance leg training, but I question the value of this when the load and contraction speeds are significantly different to on water rowing. The other issue is that once the legs fatigue, the trunk then becomes a greater contributor to total work performed. As mentioned above, this leads to a fatigue of the trunk muscles, placing lumbar spine structures at higher risk of injury.

In conclusion, the information that is currently available supports the idea that ergometer use is a risk factor for lumbar spine injury. It also suggests that the Rowperfect places much lower detrimental forces on the rower than the Concept II. It seems that placing the Concept II on sliders is also a way of reducing these detrimental forces, but this is probably not as effective as the Rowperfect.

Hooper concludes by making several interesting recommendations, beginning with a reduction in volume of work done on stationary Concept IIs. I'm surprised that research findings like these aren't more widely discussed. There is a huge amount of inertia in the rowing community working against any sort of wholesale change to a new type of ergometer starting with USRowing's testing procedure that makes exclusive use of the Concept II. It would seem, however, that when an alternative training machine exists, that better simulates on-water rowing while easing the stress on rowers' bodies, it would be given some serious consideration.

I'd immediately switch some of my training over to a Rowperfect if only I could find one of the darn things!

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

More on Erg Use

After writing two posts ago that I wasn't aware of any research on static vs. dynamic ergs, I came across some. Ivan Hooper, Sports Medicine/Sports Science coordinator for Rowing Australia and Sports Physiotherapist at the Australian Institute of Sport, wrote a review of some studies that looked at erg use in June of this year. It is short, just over one page, and you should take a few minutes to read it. Hooper starts out with a recap of the Kleshnev paper I discussed earlier, saying that he believes "all of these factors lead to an increased load applied to the structures of the trunk, and particularly the spine. Greater work done by the trunk could produce earlier fatigue of the trunk muscles, placing the spine at risk." If you recall, Kleshnev found that because the Concept II erg is static, forces are loaded on the body differently on the erg than on the water. Fast legs produce more power on the water and slow legs and strong upper body produces more power on the erg. A few highlights from Hooper:

Holt et al (2003) studied the effects of prolonged ergometer rowing. Over a 60 minute piece there were significant changes in the way the athletes moved. ... The authors attributed these changes to fatigue of the trunk muscles during the piece, reinforcing that fatigued trunk muscles may lead to low back injury.

In my experience, I feel that athletes often pay little attention to their rowing technique when on an ergometer. The level of coaching supervision is often limited as well. The result is that athletes spend time on the ergometer under greater trunk load than when on the water, with poor technique and poor postural positions. The end result is an increased load on the spine which can increase the risk of injury.

[T]hose athletes with current back pain regularly report that ergometer rowing aggravates their pain more than on water rowing. When this feedback occurs over a significant number of athletes over a number of years it is difficult to dismiss.

After Hooper wrote this, he apparently received quite a few emails about the use of Rowperfect ergs or Concept IIs on slides. In my next post I'll discuss Hooper's response.

I know these posts aren't lightweight specific, but I do think they're important to lightweights and since we're in a slow news time, I think it's worthwhile to have this discussion. Also, because I'll be getting into discussing products and brands, I think it's worthwhile to make some disclosures. I do not work for, receive payments from, nor do I expect to receive payments in the foreseeable future from either Concept II or Rowperfect (or any other rowing machine manufacturer). I have used Concept II ergs extensively, Concept II ergs with slides a few times, and I have never used a Rowperfect erg. I own a Concept II erg (no slides).

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Top 10 Lightweight Rowing Stories of 2006

This year, although not quite over, has been eventful for women's lightweight rowing. Herewith, in reverse order, is my take on the top ten stories of 2006:

10) Radcliffe's novice eight - Yes, they're novices. Yes, it's only the fall. But gosh, were they fast.

9) Tulsa begins developing a lightweight program - Tulsa evinces all the signs of an up-and-coming varsity rowing team and they've decided to develop a lightweight program. If they're successful they could be the next UCF and another model for how a relatively unknown rowing school can have a national impact. Nice HOCR light four finish too.

8) Pittsburgh is the top collegiate light four at the Head of the Charles - A darkhorse shows that rowing well as a crew beats rowing well as erg scores.

7) Men's heavyweight NCAA championship is voted down by the NCAA - A potential bullet to the heart of men's and women's lightweight rowing is avoided - for now.

6) Radcliffe coach Cecile Tucker becomes head of the CRCA lightweight committee - A lightweight only coach takes over leadership of the lightweight committee ending the most obvious conflict of interest (coaching both lightweights and heavyweights) battled by past chairmen. It's hard to make the CRCA pay attention to lightweights, but only a lightweight coach really has the incentive to fight for the category.

5) UCF and Bucknell race in the IRA final - Sure, there are always six boats in the final, including at times one or the other of these crews, but usually only to round out the field. I purposely said race the final because this year UCF and Bucknell belonged with the rest of the boats in the field and gave them a run for their money. Heck, UCF beat Wisconsin in the heat. The performance of these two crews symbolized just how tight the lightweight field is getting.

4) The IRA dam opening - The dam opening at IRA's created unfair conditions for all four national championship races. The mainstream rowing media reported inaccurate information. Other than the ECAC, no one in the rowing establishment acknowledged the debacle until just last week, 6 months after the fact. We all deserve better.

3) Georgetown finishes second in the nation - The Hoyas finally get tired of saying, "We were fourth," and row to a second place finish at IRAs. This was a long time in coming and is further evidence that there are no more "gimmes" in women's lightweight rowing.

2) Wisconsin wins its third national championship in a row - It's official, Wisconsin is a women's lightweight rowing dynasty. Wisco keeps winning, not for lack of competition, but for skill and heart.

1) Coach Mary Shofner leaves Wisconsin - Coach Shofner, who led the Badgers to three national championships, decided to leave the program at the end of the 2006 spring season. A loss for Wisconsin became the Stanford heavyweights' gain. Most surprising is that she didn't end up as a head coach. In particular the biggest loser in this story is Penn who was looking for a head coach this summer. Instead of begging Shofner to move east, they got, well, someone else.

There you have my top stories of 2006. Did I miss anything? Get the order wrong? Let me know what you think because in a few short weeks we'll be trying to predict the top stories of 2007.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Everything You Wanted to Know About Rowing Injuries

Christmas break is always a good time to try to let your injuries heal, so to help you understand what's going on a little bit better, here is a paper on rowing injuries. It covers everything from back pain to track bites (including "rower's rump!"). A couple of findings from other studies noted in this paper:

The researchers noted that throughout a maximal rowing trial on an ergometer, lumbar flexion of the subjects increased from 75% to 90% of their maximum range of motion, most likely due to muscle fatigue.

The observed risk factors [for back pain] include: increased training volume using multiple training methods; the use of a rowing ergometer for minutes at one time; greater height and weight; and beginning the sport prior to the age of 16 years.

Howell found a high positive correlation between hyperflexion of the lumbar spine and incidence of low back pain in elite lightweight oarswomen.

This study also reported a high negative correlation between adherence to a stretching programme and occurrence of low back pain.

There's a whole lot more to read in the paper.

The Teitz report that found the risk factors for low back pain actually listed more factors than those included in the quote above, including the "use of a hatchet oar blade." That finding is interesting because I've lately heard some speculation on the effect of various types of blades on the backs of lightweight women. The Teitz study found hatchets associated with back pain among all rowers so it seems logical (although not supported by any research I've seen) that bigger or more technologically advanced blades that give rowers a bigger bite of water would be more stressful on the backs of lightweight women. That's just speculation, though, and it would be nice to see some research on the subject.

The association of a lot of erg work with back pain also makes me think of the discussion we had earlier about the difference between rowing on an erg and in a boat. We talked a lot about when and how force was applied and how the necessity of moving the rower's body on a static erg creates different forces than those in a boat. Aaron Benson explained how dynamic ergs such as the Rowperfect or Concept II on slides makes the erg more like a boat. Again, it seems logical to believe that a static Concept II erg is harder on the back than a dynamic erg. I've seen no research on this question either, but I may try to get some comments on this from Concept II and Rowperfect.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

"Anonymous Tipster"

While reading the IRA story in the USRowing 2006 Yearbook this evening, I came across this passage:

In the ensuing days and weeks, however, research by an anonymous tipster revealed that park records indicated that the dam was opened during racing, which would create unequal flow conditions across the course; a follow up investigation by the ECAC confirmed the information.

The anonymous tipster is, of course, yours truly. Yes, it would have been nice to see the FITD name mentioned, but the important point is that the truth was printed. Almost as important, I think, is that this article was written by Ed Hewitt of row2k. Although Ed and I traded emails about the dam when I discovered the true situation, he never corrected his initial story on row2k stating that the dam was closed. I always felt this was unethical and beneath the fine work he does for rowing (yes, I do contribute to row2k), and I'm glad to see him correct it, even if it was in a different forum. Ed has a serious problem with anyone writing anonymously, and with blogs in general, so I know it wasn't easy for him to write this passage, but he did it. (I find his concerns about blogs particularly interesting given that row2k is one of the oldest blogs on the web. Think about it - row2k is a daily diary of links. That's called a link blog.)

Rowing News, however, is a different matter. Although they finally printed a single letter to the editor about the IRA dam, they simply said they received a lot of those letters but never admitted they printed inaccurate information. They only admitted they had Cornell's lane wrong, which I also pointed out to them. I've been lectured in the past by Chip Davis about the difference between journalists and bloggers and the longer Rowing News goes without printing the truth (they never will now, of course), the clearer that difference becomes. Rowing News apparently has no fact checkers while bloggers have their readers as fact checkers. I'm really trying not to belabor this thing (too late, huh?), but I took a lot of grief from the "mainstream rowing media" over this story (as well as from several readers) and it really burns me up that they don't have the moral backbone to chalk this one up to experience and correct it. A silver lining, however, is the fact that the ECAC admitted the problem right away so we can believe that they will take steps to avoid a replay. While criticizing me for my anonymous status, I sometimes wonder if rowing's journalists don't enjoy their "known" status a bit too much when they pal around with the officials, referees, and coaches whose pronouncements they accept as truth. It would be hard to write about an open dam at IRAs if I was worried about losing my press pass and officials' party invitation in 2007.

Sometimes people, even anonymous ones, have no ulterior motives, they simply give of their time to try to better a sport they love.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dad Vail Fours and Eights Revisited

Last year around this time I attempted to answer a small debate going on in the comments to a Dedicated Lightweight Programs post. The issue was whether the light fours or light eights were more competitive at Vails. The answer, as you might imagine, was "It depends." There were many more entries in the fours event but the eights were closer to the speed of the heavy eights. In 2006, there were still many more light fours entries than eights (20 vs. 3) but the winning light four was also closer in speed to its heavyweight counterpart than the winning light eight - 2.9% slower vs. 5.4%. Last year the respective percentages were 3.3% vs. 2.5%.

To provide some context for this kind of comparison I looked at other races as well as world records and I'll do the same thing again. At Sprints, the light four was only 0.7% off the heavy four while the light eight was 5.8% off the heavy eight. The percentages for the prior year were 2.3% and 5.1%. The fours at Sprints were a bit of an aberration because the four from Princeton that had been dominant all year crabbed in the heat and was relegated to the petites. As a result, although that boat's time (which I used here) was faster than the grand final winner's, the next boat was so far back that it was not pushed at all. Because there are no light fours or eights at Worlds, I used doubles and quads as proxies last time and we'll look again because the record have changed. The light 2x is 2.8% slower than the heavy 2x and the light 4x is 3.5% slower than the heavy 4x.

All these numbers mean that the light eights still have some distance to make up before they are comparable to their elite counterparts and both elite and college women are slower than their heavyweight counterparts than are the light men. The fours, however, are closer to the elites' gap. As far as Vails, as measured by the heavy fours, the light fours seem to have been faster this year and given the eights' drop-off, that event seems to have been more competitive than the eights. In fairness to the eights winner, Dayton, it may have been that the field just wasn't strong enough to give them a good run and if a faster boat had entered the times may have been much quicker. This was a year when the light eight field split between Dad Vail and ECAC, only to have ECAC cancel the event. (This is a tangent, I know, but that state of affairs should not be tolerated. The competing lightweight coaches should agree on which event to attend or one of the regattas should step up and organize the crews.)

Just to round out the analysis, on the erg the light women's record is 7.3% off the heavyweight record, a smaller gap than the light men to heavy men (which is 7.6%). Maybe lightweight women really are better on the water than on the erg!

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Male Practice Players

Double-A Zone notes that the "NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics has issued a position statement calling for a ban on the use of male practice players in women’s sports." Also, the Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has recommended legislation to the Division III Management Council to restrict the use of male practice players.

My first thought upon reading this was to wonder what effect it would have on those lightweight women who often practice with men. In some programs this is unheard of while in others it is relatively common. Given the right length of piece, a good heavyweight men's four can provide a great sparring partner for a light eight and a men's eight running up your rudder can provide good motivation in a head piece. In addition, we've all seen occasions when men fill in for missing rowers in women's boats so that the boat can get on the water. We've also seen men race in mixed boats with women.

After reading the NCAA committee position statement, however, it's pretty clear that this rule is not aimed at these kinds of practices. It discusses "recruiting male undergraduate students, not to participate on men’s varsity teams, but solely for the purpose of participating in practice with female athletic teams." The men women row against in my examples are on the men's varsity team. Nonetheless, well intentioned NCAA initiatives have run into trouble when applied to rowing in the past, and some diligence will be needed here to make sure any future rule has the proper language defining a "male practice player."

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Lightweights and Weight Reduction

It seems pretty clear that everyone who reads FITD understands that losing weight over a long period of time is better than losing weight over a short period. "Better," however, can mean a lot of things. When we talk about better here, most people seem to include healthier and with less risk of harm during competition. We also intuitively believe that fast weight loss hurts performance, although I, for one, have not seen any proof of that. Well, I can stop looking. Here is a 1994 study from the UK which documents the difference in performance in elite British lightweight women when one group lost weight over 2 months and another lost weight over 4 months. The results show "that the longer weight-reduction period was associated with significantly improved VO2max (p < 0.01), Tvent (p < 0.005), PP (p < 0.05) and KF (p < 0.05)."* In the 2 month group, meanwhile, "Tvent (p < 0.02) and KF (p < 0.02) decreased." The link only goes to an abstract so I can't see details like how much weight was lost in each group, but it is stated to be 6-7% of body weight (seems like quite a bit to me). What this means then, is that if your first race is in March and you have some weight to lose, you should already be on your way down.

* Maximal oxygen intake (VO2max), respiratory anaerobic threshold (Tvent), upper body anaerobic peak power (PP), and knee flexor (KF)

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fours Rankings

I've added the fall V4 rankings to the side bar. A reader asked that I track the fours ranking through the season as I do the eights, so I'll give it a shot. I didn't do this in the past because it's very difficult to do and this year will probably be even worse. The difficulty stems from the fact that there is no single championship race for fours and many of the top ranked fours do not race each other during the season. The only time there was a good mix of fours was at the Knecht Cup and that looks to be in trouble this year with Windermere on the same weekend. For example, what if Pitt wins Dad Vail and Wisconsin wins Eastern Sprints, but they didn't race each other at Knecht - who is faster? It will be very difficult to know. Also, I start out the eights in their preseason ranking. I don't do a fours preseason ranking because it's not always clear who will race in that category and I could end up ranking a boat that never races. As a result, I'll start the fours in the spring in their fall finish ranking.

What I'd really like to do is run a prediction market for both V8 and V4 rankings and give some sort of a prize for the winner. That would absolutely be the best way to rank. Even if I found a site that would let me set a market up for free, the prize aspect would no doubt run afoul of NCAA gambling rules. A prize would be critical to make people actually use their best judgment rather than vote for their favorites (like the polls). If anyone has any other ideas on this, let me know.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Regatta Race Order

The recent news that the NCAA is considering moving the women's basketball championship back one week to avoid conflicting with the men's championship made me think about the order of finals at major regattas. Somewhere along the line many regattas decided to move the women's final after the men's final. The prime example of this is IRAs where last spring the order was men's heavy eight, women's light eight, and men's light eight.

I would guess that this was originally done as a show of support for the women, giving their final a better (later) spot on the program than the heavy men. The reality, unfortunately, is a bit different. Those who attended the IRA finals saw the stands and shoreline near the finish tower fill to capacity in anticipation of the heavyweight men's championship. Once that race finished spectators moved in to see the medal presentations and then promptly began to wander off. As the light women came across the line, only those specifically interested in that race seemed to be watching. That was a decent enough crowd, but no heavyweight men fans lingered to see what the lightweight women were all about.

I assume this ordering of the races was well intentioned, but it doesn't work. The order should be light men, light women, heavy men. It would be nice if the heavyweight men's fans stayed to watch the lightweight championships, but they don't. At least not yet. We should take advantage of the forming crowd and run the light women just before the heavy men. With the increasing quality of the lightweight women's field, I have no doubt it would be a show worth watching.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I'm Pulling for China

The Asian Games are going on in Doha, Qatar right now and I think what is happening there may ultimately have an impact on collegiate women's lightweight rowing in the United States. China, home of the world champion lightweight 2x and lightweight 4x, is hoping to display its rowing prowess in Doha and use the Games as one more stepping stone to glory in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

I hope China does well in the women's lightweight event in Beijing (after the US, of course) for the good of the category. Olympic lightweight rowing is constantly under attack and a good showing by China will help the IOC look favorably on lightweights. Why? A couple of reasons. First, the IOC likes sports that increase participation around the world and until recently China hasn't been a huge player in rowing. When lightweight rowing was added it was meant to increase participation by countries such as those in Asia with people of smaller stature (although Yao Ming may argue with that). A good showing in the lightweight 2x by China would be proof of concept.

Secondly, if a country like China, an economic and demographic powerhouse, decides that they have a competitive advantage in lightweight women's rowing, they can be a powerful positive influence on the IOC when the subject of lightweights is raised yet again. Perhaps most importantly in that calculus, they are not the United States or Western Europe and would therefore be more likely to receive a favorable reception from an international body.

Perhaps this is the trickle down theory of lightweight rowing, but increased prominence for lightweight women internationally will result in more USRowing attention for the category and subsequently more collegiate attention. The pie just gets bigger.

This week, grab a Tsingtao and Ganbei for China!

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Monday, December 04, 2006

An Idea for the National Championship

With the announcement of the BCS match-ups come the annual calls for a I-A college football playoff system. Although this world of big-time sports seems far removed from lightweight rowing, it reminded me of a rowing championship format espoused by Mike Teti. Before I go farther, let me say that this idea comes from Mike, but I will no doubt not explain it quite the way he would and may get some key elements wrong. So, the idea is not mine, but any differences from the originator's actual concept are the result of my own faulty memory or misunderstanding.

In essence, the plan would work like this:

- The championship would include men's and women's heavyweights and lightweights, varsity eights only.

1) For each category there would be 12 entrants who would race in two qualifying heats (two 6 boat races)

2) Three top boats from each qualifier would move on to a quarterfinal (6 boat race)

3) The top three boats in the quarterfinal would race again in the semi-final (3 boat race)

4) The top two boats in the semi would race again in a match race to decide the national championship (2 boat race)

So, we have a tournament format, for V8s only, and all four collegiate rowing categories would have a NCAA championship. The idea is that the tournament format would create increasing excitement, building toward the last match race for the national championship (I may have added an extra race in there). By only allowing V8s we cut to the heart of the matter, avoid those silly team championships, and avoid the embarrassment of listening to the "national champion" 2V pair tell an interviewer how they just started rowing together last week. To make it a true championship event, all categories would need to be present and racing for a national championship.

That's the idea and, again, my apologies for any deviation from the original scheme. What do you think? Could this work? How would you improve it? Other ideas?

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

2006 Fall WLV4 Rankings

FITD's fall rankings based on fall results:

1) Pittsburgh

2) Princeton

3) Tulsa

4) MIT

5) Radcliffe

6) Pacific Lutheran

7) URI

8) UMass

9) Georgia

10) Georgia State

The first three crews are pretty straightforward as they were the top three at the Head of the Charles and were all reasonably close to each other. Judgment comes into play with fourth place as the fourth boat in Boston, Pacific Lutheran, was almost a minute back from Tulsa. Meanwhile MIT and Radcliffe only raced fours at the Foot of the Charles. In my judgment, I think it reasonable to assume that MIT and Radcliffe would be closer to Tulsa and Princeton than PLU's 52 seconds, so MIT comes in 4th and Radcliffe is 5th. I realize that these boats were comprised of members of the eights that raced in Boston and between this ranking and the eights ranking some of these rowers will be ranked twice, a state of affairs which seemingly shouldn't be allowed. Worrying about that, however, would introduce even more speculation so the boats are ranked as they raced.

The fourth and fifth finishers in Boston, Pacific Lutheran and URI, come in 6th and 7th. They are followed by UMass, which was 57 seconds back from Radcliffe at the Foot, Georgia, who beat Georgia State at the Hooch, and then Georgia State, the sixth place boat in Boston. UMass was closer to MIT at the Foot than Georgia State was to Tulsa in Boston and since Georgia beat Georgia State by only three seconds, UMass is ranked higher. This is all a bit convoluted, but hopefully it makes some sense.

The story of the season, of course, is Pitt, followed closely by Tulsa. In the spring, Pitt has been racing a four, not an eight, but if they have some lightweight depth this year it would be great to see them put out an eight. They did race an eight in the fall, which won the Head of the Ohio, so perhaps we'll see it at Dad Vails. Tulsa seems to be in the midst of a rowing renaissance with a new boathouse coming and the Head of the Oklahoma in their backyard. With an emphasis on lightweights we should hear the Tulsa name a lot this spring. I can see Tulsa hitting IRAs (if not this year then next) as the next UCF. It was also interesting to see Pacific Lutheran in the mix. They race lightweights now and then but hopefully a decent result in Boston will encourage them to put some focus on the lights this spring.

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