Sunday, April 15, 2007

Windermere Crew Classic - Princeton Wins, But It's Stanford's Regatta

While the rest of the lightweight league warred on the East Coast, Stanford, LMU, and Cal welcomed Princeton and UCF to the West.

On Saturday morning Stanford handled LMU with an 18 second win, followed by a reprise of the Princeton victory over UCF, this time by 25 seconds. The afternoon races resulted in Stanford defeating UCF by 25 seconds, while Princeton knocked off LMU by 21. Wow! What better set-up for a Sunday Princeton-Stanford showdown could there be?

At the 500 meter mark of that Sunday showdown, the Tigers were out to a 3 second lead, and spectators could be forgiven for expecting a comfortable Princeton victory. It was not to be, however, as the Tigers only picked up another second and a half by the 1k mark, and then watched the Cardinal slowly move back. Princeton won the race, but by a mere 3 seconds, with Stanford turning in a faster final 1000 meters. It was hard to see much detail on the Web cast, but in the last 500, over which Stanford was a second faster, it looked like Princeton was struggling to get out of their puddles while Stanford maintained their length. Last year I believed it was UCF who would come roaring back from a less than ideal season the prior year, and this year I've said that it would be Stanford. It looks like I was right.

Also on Sunday, UCF and LMU, both holding 0 and 2 records at the regatta, met for the final lightweight eight showdown. In a race led by UCF the whole way, the Golden Knights defeated LMU by 10 seconds. Both of these crews came into Windermere and ran into buzz saws in the forms of Princeton and Stanford. They rowed well, but the Tigers and Cardinal were just too strong. In LMU's case, they competed against three of the top crews in lightweight rowing and acquitted themselves well.

The Princeton 2V was also at Windermere and finally got that race against Cal's heavyweight 3V. Cal jumped out to a 6 second lead by 500 meters and only gradually lengthened it from there, ultimately winning by 20 seconds. It was a tough row for Princeton as they faced a head wind which was an advantage for Cal the Tigers could ill afford to give up.

In the Princeton 2V's second race, on Sunday, they faced the Cal lightweights and Arizona State. Sam Chang, who wrote the Windermere preview on row2k, told me that ASU brought 4 lightweight rowers and their entire heavyweight boat with them, so the boat faced by Cal and Princeton was at least half heavyweights. This was the three boat demolition derby race with Cal, in lane zero, the most likely to run into trouble. Although the race ran off schedule so the results aren't listed, spotters tell me Princeton had an open water lead by the bridge, with Cal and ASU locked in a tight battle behind. Princeton maintained and lengthened its lead, winning by a couple of lengths open, with the Cal - ASU duel uncertain. Cal had to maneuver through the bridge so they clearly had a disadvantage, but whatever the outcome, the Golden Bears raced down a heavyweight crew from ASU, a nice result for a boat that hasn't had a lot of time together this season. Princeton's 2V, meanwhile, apparently put together a good race and showed their speed.

At the end of the day, a Stanford light four dominated a Cal light four, winning by 57 seconds.

With Stanford's resurgence Princeton begins to look vulnerable and the West Coast begins to become a larger factor in lightweight rowing. Princeton flies back east knowing they have yet to find the answer, and Stanford goes home with a new confidence and the understanding that by IRAs they should be contending for a medal. This result, combined with that from Knecht, makes me rethink the relative strength of the top crews. While I still believe Princeton is capable, I think Wisconsin is once again the crew to beat and that Stanford is in the top three. Next week's Princeton-Georgetown dual will tell us more, with the Stanford, Georgetown, Wisconsin, OSU race in two weeks looming especially large.

1 comment:

spamchang said...

I should clarify that, given the depth of the ASU team (or rather, the lack thereof), many of ASU's openweight rowers are pretty close to, if not outright qualified, as lightweight rowers. How many of those there were here, I'm not sure. The final finish times for the three-boat race are posted in that last article I have on times were taken from the official regatta scoreboard, which was timed completely and separately from the jamco operation.