Women’s crew woke up to light snow Saturday morning but could not be deterred in defending its home course at Lake Onota. Lining up against Bates, Ithaca and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in the Onota Cup races amidst increasingly poor weather, all four Williams boats won their respective races decisively.
The 1V crew kicked off the day with a strong performance, starting the women with a top finish. The women crossed the finish line in a time of 7:14.3, just under nine seconds ahead of the second-place Bates crew. “The race this weekend was great to see how we stack up against some of the fastest teams in Div. III,” 1V coxswain Becca Licht ’11 said. Looking ahead to the championship racing season, Licht added, “we look forward to lining up against a motivated Bates crew for each of our next three racing events.”
The 2V was up next for the women. Bates had a quick start and took off from the line, gaining about four seats on the Williams crew from the get-go. This was an unprecedented start for the 2V this season, but coxswain Fiona Wilkes ’12 kept the rowers calm and executed an effective race plan. The 2V gained open water with 500 meters to go and crossed the finish line in a time of 7:26.8.
“The 2V has really started to come together in the past week,” 2V stroker Sydney Tooze ’12 said. “We started down after crossing oars with Coast Guard, and we had the challenge of catching up. We tried to gain momentum in the third 500 meters and were able to preserve our lead and claim victory.”
The weather started to take a turn for the worse as the 3V prepared to hit the water. However, continuing the high standard set earlier in the morning by the 1V and 2V boats, the 3V rowed to a 10-second victory over the crews from Bates and Ithaca, finishing with a time of 7:46.5. “Bates surprised us off the line, going stroke for stroke for the first 300 [meters],” coxswain Liz Zhu ’11 said. “However, we stayed calm and moved up half a boat before the 500 [meter mark]. From there, we continued to power through the course. I’m really proud of how the boat displayed mental toughness against good competition in the freezing rain.”
The skies opened up as the novice eight waited for the starting commands. Racing in a cold downpour, the novices fought hard to the finish, turning in a solid first-place time of 7:36.6 and claiming a commanding 24-second victory over Ithaca’s novices.
The strong competition this weekend was a true test of the dedication and training of the women’s crews. The conditions also tested the dedication of the spectators. “We owe a lot to any kind of fan, parent or otherwise, who showed up on our home lake in some of the worst weather we’ve seen in years,” Licht said.
Saturday’s races will mark the beginning of the spring championship season for Williams. All four women’s boats will compete in the New England Rowing Championships in Worcester, Mass.
After a strong regular season showing, co-captain Adrienne Darrow ’11 expressed her excitement about the team’s potential in the coming weeks: “We are also really excited to see some new crews at New Englands, including perennial rival Trinity. Every race puts us one step closer to the National Championships, and we are really excited to see what happens,”she said.