Lake Onota was treacherous on Saturday, but amidst the high winds and whitecaps, Williams managed to sweep the races against Wesleyan. From the very first event, the day belonged to the Ephs, who proved their talent and training in this dual meet.
At 10:15 a.m., Williams’ first and second varsity boats and Wesleyan’s second varsity boat took to their lanes. Though the Ephs were behind in the first five strokes, the second varsity squad soon caught up to claim the beginning of the race.
“We took control of the race from the very beginning, leaving Wesleyan behind when the conditions were relatively calm in the first 1000 meters,” said coxswain Dan Winston ’09. In the second half of the race, the second varsity team met success by rowing cautiously, since the weather could have thwarted its efforts at any time.
“The 2V rose to the occasion and proved what they are capable of; not only over Wesleyan but over a spirited 3V/freshman crew that has been a real thorn in their side this past week,” Head Coach Ben Lewis said.
The third varsity boat, however, proved the true star of the race. “The boat contained six novices and two JVs. The frosh continue to demonstrate a willingness to live up to the standard at Williams,” Assistant Coach Colin Regan said. The crew beat Wesleyan’s second varsity boat by almost five seconds, while finishing only seven seconds behind the Williams second varsity boat.
The first varsity boat, which won the race in 6:26.9, enjoyed a victory that was somewhat tempered by the conditions. “We had a pretty good start, but failed to execute our race plan in the way we were hoping. We were able to hold off a resurgent Wesleyan crew to claim the win,” said co-captain Andy Ward ’09.
“Wesleyan pushed us hard, as expected, in the first varsity race, and both crews struggled in tough conditions,” Lewis said. “We must remember in such a longstanding rivalry that a win is a win and that is important.” Williams finished just over four seconds faster than Wesleyan.
The novice eight and varsity four races were canceled after the first varsity race because of winds that blew over 15 mph and high swells, so the novice eight was unable to compete against Wesleyan’s equivalent.
The day’s award ceremony saw the first varsity team retain the Saratoga Oar, while the second varsity team captured the Calhoun Cup for the first time in a few years. The Bill McGraw trophy was not awarded, but Williams still holds that particular award from last year’s racing.
On Saturday, the team will take to Lake Onota once more to trade blows with Coast Guard, Bates, Marist and others. “After seeing the results from various other races this weekend and our own race today, it is clear that there is no stand out crew in New England and next weekend’s race against Bates will be a big test for our crews,” Lewis said.
As the following week will bring the New England Championships, Saturday’s races will serve as an important benchmark for the season.