April 23, 2009

Crew Rolls From Boston to Conn.

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Last weekend featured prime EARC lightweight rowing action as three-time defending national champions Cornell hit the road Friday morning to begin a trip to Boston, Mass., and Derby, Conn.
We departed Ithaca in the morning on Friday, allowing us time to rig our boats and practice on the course, in Boston, Friday afternoon. After a six-hour trip, a practice row in windy Boston, and a weigh-in, the team got to bed early Friday night.
To put it simply: Saturday was a long day. All five Cornell crews were up at 5 a.m. to prepare for the early morning races against Columbia and MIT. We arrived at the course by 6:15 a.m. and the races were soon underway.
The opening race featured three boats: the Cornell second and third varsity-8 boats and the Columbia second varsity-8. Our No. 2 squad set the pace from early on in the 2,000-meter race, extending the lead to 8.1 seconds over Columbia by the end of the race. The depth of our team was on display here, as our third varsity-8 boat finished within one second of the Columbia second varsity-8.
The Cornell freshmen crews were up next in a four-boat race featuring both the Cornell first and second novice-8 in addition to the Columbia and MIT novice-8 boats. Cornell’s top novice boat put on a strong push in the middle of the race to win by 5.3 seconds over the Columbia freshmen, with the Cornell second novice-8 just a length behind the Lions. The MIT freshmen crew finished fourth.
The final race of the morning featured the varsity crews from Cornell, Columbia and MIT. I called a sharp, focused warm-up and we successfully defended the Geiger Cup by establishing a convincing lead in the first minute of the race. The No. 6 nationally ranked varsity boat finished 8.6 seconds ahead of No. 10 Columbia and 10.5 seconds ahead of No. 11 MIT.
By 10 a.m., our trailer was loaded and we were off to the Gilder Boathouse to take on No. 3 Yale in an afternoon dual. The races were underway by 4 pm with a steady tail wind.
Cornell’s second freshman crew started the afternoon racing with a dominant showing, beating Yale by more than 26 seconds. The Cornell second and third varsity-8 faced tough competition, with both crews falling to Yale by a boat length.
[img_assist|nid=37159|title=Going the distance|desc=The Lightweight crew spent last weekend all along the eastern seaboard.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The varsity race was a real battle. Cornell started up six seats on a staggered start to compensate for Yale having the inside turn on the course. I was in the cox seat, calling the crew through our race plan, taking advantage of the wind gusts from behind, and keeping a careful watch on the Yale boat’s progress. After the start, we shifted into the body of the race with a two-seat lead. As I steered through the turn, Yale was able to pull level. They took a strong push with 800 meters to go, giving Yale the lead by two seats with 750 meters to go. I called on the Red to close the margin with 500 meters to go, and we pulled level to the Yale crew. With a sprint to the finish line, Yale took the race by a few seats.
The first novice-8 topped off the day with an impressive 2.5-second win over the Yale freshmen. Our freshmen were able to post the same time as the strong Yale second varsity crew.
After loading up the trailer again, we left Yale by 7 p.m. and were back in Ithaca a little after midnight. All in all, the weekend was a strong showing for all five Cornell lightweight crews, with still much work left to do before our dual against Dartmouth on April 25, the Eastern Sprints on May 10 and the IRA National Championship on June 6.