On a cold, drizzly morning in Worcester, men’s crew dominated historic rival Wesleyan to retain the fabled Saratoga Oar for the third year running. The 1V and 2V beat their Wesleyan opponents by 10 and 16 seconds, respectively, while the 3V obliterated Wesleyan by 27 seconds. The 2V and 3V also competed against boats from other schools, but both boats came away victorious over each of their respective challengers.
Despite flat conditions, the 1V had a horrible start, finding themselves almost half-a-length down on Wesleyan at the end of their start sequence and high strokes. Once they settled into their base cadence, however, they moved quickly on Wesleyan, and by the halfway point of the race was firmly in control and up by a length of open water. The gap continued to grow as the race progressed, and despite barely sprinting, the 1V finished well ahead of its Wesleyan foes.
Although the race was not much of a competition, the crew was generally pleased with its efforts, having seen much improvement over the past week. Co-captain Cameron Skinner ’10 expressed the team’s excitement, but also made it clear that the men will not become complacent. “This week represented an important step, but we still have a lot of speed to gain by the New England Championships,” he said.
In the 2V’s race, Williams sprang out ahead from the first stroke to quickly pull away from the field. “We had a good start and a strong base pace,” said strokeman Noah Schoenholtz ’12. Ithaca and Colby also took part in the 2V race, but weren’t able to keep pace with the men: Williams defeated the teams by 13 and 16 seconds, respectively.
The 3V boat absolutely decimated the competition, rowing to first place in its race 23 seconds in front of second-place finisher Ithaca. A number of novice rowers stepped up to race in the 3V last weekend due to a shortage of upperclassmen rowers: The first-year representation in the decisive victory demonstrated the team’s depth relative to the competition.
The novice crew also raced hard, falling to two Trinity boats but beating UNH, WPI and Ithaca. Wesleyan did not have the personnel to field a novice crew this year. Although the novices lost to Trinity for the second time in two weeks, their domination over other freshman crews bodes well for the competition at New England’s May 1.
The competition, formally known as the Little Three, is now only contested between Williams and Wesleyan as a result of Amherst’s inability to field a full squad. Nonetheless, it remains one of the focal points of the season as the team begins to prime itself for the end-of-year championships. The Saratoga Oar is one of the oldest trophies in college rowing and the team was thrilled that it will remain at Williams for another year. Co-captain Greg Ferris ’10 summed the day up aptly: “Getting swept by Wesleyan my freshman year has given me nightmares throughout my entire college rowing career,” he said. “But [Saturday night], I slept like a newborn.”
Another hard week of practice awaits before the men embark on their only home race of the season on Saturday. Williams will line up against Ithaca, Coast Guard, Bates and Marist on Lake Onota for the last race before championship season opens.