Women’s crew edges Hobart in first regatta

In a day of rough weather in Ithaca, N.Y., men’s and women’s crew performed strongly against stiff competition. Women’s crew, ranked first nationwide in Div. III, triumphed against Ithaca, ranked second nationally, and Hobart. Men’s crew finished third behind those two highly regarded squads, but posted a solid time in its first race of the season.

On the women’s side, the first varsity crew faced Hobart and Ithaca, two of the teams that will challenge Williams for the national title. The women won the race in 7:54.4, with Hobart only a second and a half behind at 7:56.0 and Ithaca in a close third at 7:59.4.

Williams knew the competition it would face from the Ithaca team would be tough, but Hobart, previously unranked, was something of a surprise.

“I don’t know if they were ranked, but after their performance, I expect that to change,” said Justin Moore, head coach of women’s crew. “Today we raced what may very well be two of the other best Div. III teams in the country.”

The strong wind over the lake that created difficult racing conditions made the team’s first race of the season even more difficult and nerve-racking, but the women overcame the obstacle and pulled out the victory.

“We were able to hold off the highly ranked competition,” said Izzy Lowell ’02. “While it was by no means a pretty race, it got the job done.”

The women’s second varsity boat also dominated its race, coming in seven seconds ahead of the nearest competition at 8:15.1. Ithaca’s two boats finished the race in 8:22.2 and 8:50.0, respectively.

“We went out as two solid boats of nine women working together,” said Lowell.

On the men’s side, the crew did not finish as high as it had hoped, but the team expects to improve in the future. The team makes no excuses for this race.

“It’s still early in the season, so losing this race was not the end of the world,” said co-captain Noah Coburn ’02. “That said, we need to avoid making excuses like water conditions and the strength of our opponents.”

Hobart won the race in a time of 6:51.5. Ithaca came in second at 7:02.6, with the Ephs a mere four-and-a-half seconds behind at 7:07.2.

“We need to spend the next few weeks identifying our weaknesses as a team and eliminating them,” said Coburn. “Crew races are only six to seven minutes long, and we need to learn to row together long and powerfully early in the race instead of waiting for the boat to come together after 1,500 meters.”

The men’s second varsity team did not perform very well, finishing in 7:29.4, well behind Ithaca’s 7:06.5, and Hobart’s 7:08.7.

For the novices, all the crews lost their races, but they all learned well from their first experiences on the water. Williams often does not perform well in novice races, as it usually places genuine first-time rowers on those squads, while other teams often race first-years with high school experience on the novice crews. The women’s first novice finished in 8:27.9 – only three seconds behind Hobart at 8:24.2, but well behind Ithaca’s strong showing of 8:08.1.

The men’s first novice crew lost a two-boat race to Ithaca by an estimated three boat lengths. The women’s second novice crew also came in second in a two-boat affair, finishing in 9:36.0 to Ithaca’s 8:58.4. The men’s second novice crew finished in 7:49.0 – behind both of Ithaca’s boats, which finished in 7:46.0 and 7:16.4, respectively.

“It was great to get some race experience behind us this weekend,” said novice crewman Stephen Kelleher ’05, expressing a sentiment shared by many of the novice members. “Although we have some specific problems to iron out in the coming weeks, now we know what to expect at a regatta, and we’re looking forward to coming together as a team and getting faster.”

Although the men’s team did not finish as highly as it had hoped, the team knows it has trained well and it can expect that work to pay dividends as the season progresses and the team comes together more.

“We need to focus,” said Coburn. “We need to apply the training and the base we built over spring break more effectively.”

For the Ephwomen, the team’s success bodes well for another dominant season. “Of course, we have many things to work on in the coming weeks of training,” said Lowell, “but the strength in character of this team forms a foundation that is already clearly evident.”

The team’s next race is this coming Saturday in Worcester against Connecticut College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

On the women’s side, though all four teams are ranked within the top ten nationally, the Ephs should be in line for another victory.

The men’s team should find a worthy opponent in the MIT Engineers, but look for the Ephmen to post victories over weaker squads from WPI and Connecticut College.