Warm weather greeted women’s crew in Worcester, Mass., on Saturday as the team took first place over WPI, Simmons, Conn. College and Franklin & Marshall. The women took two of the top three places against the Vesper Elites after winning their race against St. Joseph’s and Marietta on April 2, and they held on to a slight lead over the Williams men’s 1V boat and the UNC men’s boat in Myrtle Beach on March 21.
The weekend’s warm weather came after a challenging first week back from break, as the majority of the lake was still covered in ice for the women’s practices. The Ephs won their 1V and 2V races with a comfortable lead, but they considered the 2k course an important opportunity to test their training.
The 1V finished in 7:10.2, a full 20 seconds ahead of the field, which did not include any of the teams the women will face at NCAAs.
“We were fortunate to have success in our last racing opportunities, but our performance this weekend shows us that we still have a lot to work on and have many ways to get faster before our championship races,” 1V coxswain Becca Licht ’11 said.
The 2V had a similar race, crossing the line at 7:20.2, nearly 30 seconds before the other boats. The 3V, rowing in a new lineup, came down the course in 7:41.1 to finish 25 seconds ahead of the second-place boat from Simmons. The novice eight had another strong showing and won handily with a time of 7:33.3, nearly 40 seconds ahead of the next boat.
The varsity four proved again to be a challenge for Williams: The boat did its best to keep up with Conn. College’s top four rowers before the Camels pulled away for the win. Head Coach Brad Hemmerly was pleased with the series of wins but acknowledged that the Ephs would face many more challenges before the championship season, which begins April 30 with the New England Rowing Championship in Worcester, Mass.
After 11 days of double and often triple practices on the women’s training trip to South Carolina, the rowers headed for the Schuykill River in Philadelphia, Penn., for their first official spring race. The men and women competed against St. Joseph’s, a strong Div. I program, and Marietta in the morning, racing through a strong headwind. Due to a slight turn at the beginning of the 2000-meter course, the start and finish of the race were staggered, a fact coxswains had to consider when calling their crews.
The 1V managed to overcome the day’s obstacles, however. The women moved well through the wind and won their race in a swift 6:50.2, over 20 seconds ahead of St. Joseph’s and Marietta. The 2V race proved to be the closest of the day, with Williams taking a slight lead early on, then moving out to what seemed a definitive lead of six seats with just 400 meters to go. At that point, St Joseph’s gathered for a ferocious sprint to the finish and, due to the staggered finish, it was unclear which boat had won. The 2V had to wait until they were off the water to learn of their victory in 6:56.4, just barely ahead of St. Joseph’s time of 6:57.3. The women’s 3V also competed in the 2V race and made the best of the conditions, crossing the line at 7:35.4 for third. The women’s varsity four had one of the most challenging races of the day, as they faced some of St. Joseph’s top rowers. St. Joseph’s was aggressive, rowing at a very high rating, but the women persevered, staying close to first for most of the race to finish second with a time of 8:08.4, not far behind St. Joseph’s in 8:05.2 and well ahead of Marietta at 8:43.7.
The novice women also faced an aggressive St. Joseph’s crew in what began as a close race but ended with another open water Williams win. The women finished their first ever 2k race in 7:28.0, ahead of St. Joseph’s 7:33.5.
Later that day, the 1V got their chance at a close race, facing off against a quad of Vesper Elites and posting three more decisive margins to end the team’s first foray into spring racing on a high note. Summing up the weekend, co-captain Anna Soybel ’11 said, “the racing this weekend was an exciting start to our season and a great foundation for the rest of the spring.”
The women also competed during their spring training trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C. After a single day of practice on the Intracoastal Waterway, the women’s 1V joined the Williams and UNC men’s varsity boats for a scrimmage on March 21, a race required for the team to be eligible for NCAAs. The women were given a 20-second head start for the three-minute piece and finished five seconds ahead of the men’s boats. While it was not a traditional scrimmage experience, the piece was an excellent test of how the boat would react to the pressure of another crew closing in. The 1V’s goal was to maintain as much of its initial lead as possible while fending off the oncoming men’s boats.
The women will next compete against Holy Cross, Ithaca, MIT and Wesleyan at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., on Saturday.