Monday, February 26, 2007

Lightweights at C.R.A.S.H.-B.

It's that time of year when the ultimate collegiate team sport becomes an individual sport - C.R.A.S.H.-B. For one weekend in February it doesn't matter if you sky at the catch, rush up the slide, lean to port, or miss water. It only matters how quickly you can spin a flywheel to a theoretical 2,000 meters. And some of you can do it quite well.

Before we look at the results, it's worth remembering that C.R.A.S.H.-B.s are another event that makes up its own lightweight category, in this case the ever popular winter weight of 135 pounds. It makes me wonder if lightweights are really bears, who need to pile on the blubber for a winter hibernation. Sorry, I just don't get it.

C.R.A.S.H.-B.s are always notable for how few rowers from the top lightweight programs appear at the top of the results. Mostly this is because not many teams send representatives, but we also see lightweights from mainly heavyweight teams performing well.

If you haven't voted in the readers' poll yet, you might want to consider that of the top three college lightweight finishers, two were from Marist (pulling a 7:29.8 and a 7:30.6). Marist almost always puts out lightweight boats at some point during the season but has yet to make an impact at the IRA level (although they've raced there twice in the past 9 years). They raced a light eight in Boston last fall and didn't look particularly fast, although I understand the crew was a bit injury depleted. Maybe this is the spring for Marist to make a move?

The top collegiate lightweight, pulling a 7:27.3, was from Dartmouth, with the fourth from Brown and the fifth from Trinity. At sixth and seventh were rowers from URI (7:34.2) and MIT (7:35.1), with another MIT rower (7:38.6) at 11th. Am I going out on a limb to suggest that if it wasn't for MIT's fall performance we'd all be quite surprised to see MIT athletes in this territory?

Several of the names at the top of the list were also seen at USRowing Nationals and Canadian Henley over the summer, suggesting that they just might know how to row on the water as well.

Also, if I can grossly generalize, a quick look at last year's results shows that a year-to-year improvement of about 5 seconds is a reasonable expectation.

The good thing about C.R.A.S.H.-B.s is that, although there are still 2ks ahead for most of you, it's just about time to get on the water.

And if you go to school in Florida... it's on!


Anonymous said...

What's the deal with teams, even local teams, not showing up for Crash-bs? MIT lightweight rowers were all over the place this year, and last. Good show! Radcliffe lightweight rowers showed up last year, but, with the exception of a couple of girls, failed to appear this year. How far is Princeton (NJ), for goodness' sake? What's that about? Are the teams who are local but fail to appear trying to create the mystique of their rowers as an intimidation factor (i.e. we have mythical, magical erg scores! So you'd better not show up to race us, because we're WAY faster than you on the water!)? Just wondering.

JW Burk said...

You ask a good question. I suppose there are a variety of answers, including the secrecy factor. Some schools have their own local races that they attend, others have in-house races that can be pretty big productions, and some, I suppose, don't want to make that big of a deal about erging. I'm sure, though, that secrecy has a lot to do with it.

Think of this blog. Although there is frequently a pretty healthy level of comments, particularly on general topics, there is still a reluctance to comment for fear of divulging secrets to "the enemy." You may have noticed some comments in which readers have said I've made incorrect assumptions about their team, yet they let those assumptions go uncorrected. They're worried about helping "the enemy." While I understand this completely, I think it's generally pretty silly. Suppose you knew the erg score of every rower in your opponent's boat this weekend. What would you do with that? Would it change your race strategy? Would it change how you rowed? I can't see why it would. Suppose you knew exactly how your opponents trained for this race. Does that change your plans? I'll go so far as to say that even if you knew your opponents race strategy, it shouldn't matter. There is no defense in rowing. Your fastest piece is your fastest piece, whether you come from behind or race from the front.

What matters is HOW you train and HOW you execute. Usually, what distinguishes champions from the rest is not that they have a better plan, it's the fact that they train with more passion and desire, they allow themselves to be coached, and they believe in each other. They then execute more precisely, with more heart and with more determination. They have the will to win. (Then again, sometimes they're just superior athletes!)

Having inside information about your opponents mainly helps in one area - confidence, for those who believe that it makes a difference.

Anonymous said...

As someone who did do CRASH-B this year, it really is just a 2k... a glorified one albeit, but really it is part of the greater training for the upcoming spring. If I were going to school in New Jersey, or Maryland, or New York, or ... I don't think that it would be worth the trek. A 6 hour bus ride each way in the middle of the semester, or even worse, an expensive plane flight and hotel stay, are simply not justified. I was already complaining enough after having to put out $20 and T fares to enter... People from other teams aren't obligated to spend money to share their erg scores with everyone else. Be patient. We'll be seeing enough of each other's speed in about a month or so.

Aaron Benson said...

Because CRASH-B occurs during the off-season, teams cannot go as teams. This is why you see so many made-up team names and unaffiliated rowers there. If the team is not allowed to pay for travel or entry fees then many people from out of town do a simple cost-benefit analysis and often stay home.