Poor weather mars NE Championship Regatta
By Anh Thu Vo
The women's crew teams traveled to Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester to compete in the women's New England Championship Regatta last Saturday, May 6, only to have the regatta rescheduled for Sunday due to high gusting wind and rough water. The racing conditions were barely rowable on Sunday, and so the regatta officials called off the races at noon with only a few events completed.
Among those events competed were the varsity eight's, JV eight's, and novice eight's and four's. Each event had at least one heat and/or a final. MIT made it to the finals in all three events with the novice four capturing their race, bringing in the only satisfying moment during the frustrating weekend.
Despite the almost unrowable conditions, the novice four shut out their opponents from the University of New Hampshire, University of Massachusetts, US Coast Guard Academy, and Wesleyan College. They broke open water after the first 30 strokes of the race and simply rowed off with the win.
Rowing for the four were Jennifer Hill '92 (stroke), Barbara Sigmund '92, Rachel Huggins '92, and Cynthia Holcroft '92 (bow). Liz Yap '92 coxed.
MIT's varsity eight easily defeated their opponents from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Simmons College, and Tufts University in their qualifying heat. According to varsity coxswain and team captain Tricia Roxas '89, the eight left their opponents behind after the first 500 meters. Roxas repeatedly called the stroke rating down until they crossed the finish line with a 25 rating cadence.
Having won the heat with a wide margin, the Engineers were placed in the fourth lane, between the faster boats from an earlier heat and the second and third finishers from their own heat. This proved inauspicious for MIT; it would have been better if they had been placed among the faster qualifiers from the UMass, Wesleyan, and Wellesley College.
The start went well despite the officials' decision not to use a stake boat. MIT kept up with the three faster shells for its first ten high strokes, using a twenty strokes high start. However, MIT did not settle well and lost some distance to UMass, Wesleyan, and Wellesley. By the 500-meter mark, UMass had pushed their lead to one length while Wesleyan had gained four seats on MIT. Wellesley had also taken a seat up on MIT.
Having won against Wellesley two weeks earlier in the Brunnelle Cup on the Charles River, the varsity eight was determined not to give Wellesley any distance during the race. They made several unsuccessful moves during the next 1000 meters to shorten the lead held by Wellesley, only to have them countered by their opponent. By the 1700-meter mark, Wellesley had lengthened their lead to a four-seats.
Coming into the sprint during the last 500 meters, the varsity eight brought their rating up and shortened the distance down to one seat behind Wellesley as they crossed the finish line, placing fourth. UMass won, and Wesleyan placed second.
Roxas explained that the crew had trouble keeping their 34 racing cadence due to the strong headwind during the race. The racing cadence kept creeping down to a 32 and had to be repeatedly called back up by the coxswain.
Race officials recast the JV eight's qualifying heats as a final when the weather deteriorated by late morning. The wind was picking up, and white caps were racing down the length of the lake. Regatta officials considered canceling the regatta and actually ended up recalling several fours who had launched.
The JV eight final was eventually scratched since the crew from UMass protested the race, citing confusion made by the officials who were recalling the fours during the race. UMass left soon after protesting, preventing another rematch.
The contested final was eventually raced, and Wellesley edged out UMass, followed by MIT and WPI.
The women's crew teams will have a rematch against Wellesley College this Saturday, May 13. They will then travel to Lake Waramaug in Connecticut on May 20-21 to compete in the Women's Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges Sprints Championship.
Men's crews fare similarly
The MIT men's heavyweight crew teams lost to their opponents from Dartmouth College and the University of Wisconsin at Madison in the Cochrane Regatta on the Charles River last Saturday.
The varsity record now stands at 0-9. The Engineers have had a frustrating season, losing to opponents which they should have beaten (such as Columbia University and US Coast Guard Academy), according to heavyweight coach Gordon Hamilton. However, Saturday's races showed that the Engineers were rowing cleanly.
Racing conditions on Saturday were less than ideal. The water was rough, almost unrowable and the cross wind occasionally gusted up to 40 mph.
The MIT varsity heavyweight eight suffered visibly as they went into the middle 1000 meters. Efforts made by MIT during the first 500 meters to keep even weren't enough in the strong crosswind, enabling Dartmouth and Wisconsin to make very effective use of their weight and leave MIT behind. Wisconsin won the race in 6:28.2 while Dartmouth finished second in 6:35.4 . MIT finished last in 6:42.4 .
The JV had similar troubles with the racing conditions. Even during their starting strokes, the Engineers were quickly left behind as soon as they settled into the race. Dartmouth and Wisconsin then began the long contest for the lead.
Near the 1000-meter mark, Wisconsin's four man caught a boat-stopping, over-the-head crab and gave Dartmouth a four-seat lead. The Badgers recovered quickly and were once again even by the 1500-meter. MIT gained some distance on Wisconsin but wasn't close enough to regain contact with the leading boats.
Wisconsin edged out Dartmouth to win the race in 6:55.7 . Dartmouth's time was 6:57.3 . MIT finished a distant third in 7:29.0 .
The third varsity eight did not race in the regatta, instead they competed against Harvard's third varsity lightweight eight. However, their race proved the most exciting during the day, trading the lead by a bow ball with the Crimson crew.
The "dead heat" result (the boats were even as they crossed the finish line) proved how well MIT rowed. MIT took the lead at the start. Harvard's lightweight eight refused to give up the lead so easily, and the two boats began trading the lead on every stroke. MIT executed two perfect power moves against Harvard during the third 500 meters but still couldn't pull away.
The arduous fourth 500 meters were also closely contested. Every surge made by MIT was answered by Harvard; the two bows crossed the finish line at the same time.
The first freshmen eight raced against Dartmouth and was completely outrowed. MIT was left behind to row their own race after having kept contact for the first 400 meters. Dartmouth won the race in 6:52.5 while MIT finished in 7:04.5 .
The men's heavyweight and lightweight teams will travel to Lake Quinsigamond to compete in the Men's Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges Sprints Championship next Sunday, May 14. The heavyweights then will travel to Syracuse, NY, to compete in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship in June.