Men’s crew crowned ECAC champions

Men’s crew followed up its impressive win over Trinity at the New England championship May 1 with another title last weekend at the ECAC National Invitational Rowing championship. Williams achieved the program’s best-ever result as the novice boat took bronze, the 2V won its first medal ever at the regatta in third place and the 1V triumphed against all comers, winning the regatta for the first time in the 17 years it has competed there. The Ephs also claimed third overall when combined with the women’s results on the weekend with 100 points.

While ECACs is not the national championships of men’s crew, it is the final and most important regatta of the Williams men’s rowing season due to both NESCAC regulations and a lack of NCAA recognition of the sport.

A rematch with Trinity after the emotional victory at New Englands, in which Williams bested Trinity by .59 seconds, as well as the presence of perennial powerhouses Michigan, Marist and Hobart, promised exciting racing in the 1V event last weekend. Despite 25 mph winds, which created highly variable and unstable conditions for racing, the 1V boat managed to get through the preliminaries without too much trouble. The men had to fend off a Bucknell boat early on as the Bison crew posted a quick first 1000 meters as the team looked to sneak into the Grand Final. In the end, Williams finished first in its preliminary heat. First-place finishes from Trinity and Michigan in their respective heats set those two boats up as Williams’ main competition in the final.

A gust of wind at the start of the 1V finals and some questionable first strokes put Williams in last as the race began, but the Ephs quickly settled into a rhythm and began cutting into their opponents’ leads. Michigan and Marist had sprung out into an early lead, while rival Trinity was right next to the Williams 1V. The two boats traded moves all the way through the 1000-meter mark, taking and conceding seats every few strokes and seemingly leaving the title up to the final sprint.

With 500 meters to go, Williams passed Marist, and coxswain Michael Abrams ’11 decided that the only way to beat Michigan would be to start sprinting early. The 1V took up the rating and started taking seats, gradually moving away from Trinity and finally Michigan as the boat came into the last 150 meters. Exhausted, the Ephs relied on pure adrenaline to get them to the finish line ahead of Michigan and a rapidly approaching Trinity boat. Williams claimed the title by a slim .3-second margin, roughly equivalent to four or five feet.

“It was so close,” Head Coach Peter Wells ‘79 said of the 1V race. “I’m glad the season is over, because I don’t think I could take another race like that.”

Meanwhile, the 2V claimed its first ever medal at the ECAC regatta last weekend, finishing a close third behind Michigan and Trinity.

“Although we obviously would have preferred to win, doing what no Williams 2V has ever done before is a fantastic feeling,” co-captain Greg Ferris ’10 said.

The novice boat also raced admirably, finishing in third, a mere two seconds behind second-place Michigan. Trinity won the race seven seconds ahead of Michigan. Nonetheless, the first-years had a successful year and will look to have an impact on the varsity boats as they move up the ranks.

Overall, the calendar year marked a rousing success. The Ephs’ 1V took first in all three of the year’s major championships – the Head of the Charles in October, the New England championship May 1 and ECACs last weekend – while their 2V and novice boats showed an unprecedented level of achievement and depth. Co-captain Cameron Skinner ’10 was ecstatic after the race. “[Victory] would not have been possible without the hours of hard work put in by the team for the past eight months, as well as the dedicated effort of our fantastic coach, Peter Wells,” he said.

Williams looks forward to continuing its success next year and will soon start training to prepare for the fall, when the team will take on traditional rivals in Head Races throughout the season.