Men’s crew arrived on site at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., early Saturday morning for the Jim Donahue Cup, ready to race and excited to put all their offseason training and physiological gains to the test. The first race of the 2016 season for men’s crew, the Donahue Cup traditionally features host WPI and visitors MIT and Williams. The University of Rochester also participated in the regatta this year.
The men’s 1V raced first, followed by the 2V and then the 3V. The 1V men fell behind MIT and WPI off the line and were back nearly a length at the end of the first 500 meters. The Ephs stayed poised and relied on their fitness through the middle 1000, walking back on MIT and WPI and extending their lead on Rochester., slowly edging forward.
With 500 meters to go, the men had put open water between their stern and WPI’s bow and had pulled to a two-seat lead on MIT. However, despite the gritty efforts of the Ephs, the Engineers managed to pull even and surpass the 1V, knifing through the finish line to edge out the men by a mere 0.44 second.
Williams finished with a time of 5:55.34, and despite the second-place standing, the time represents a strong start to the spring season. WPI and University of Rochester came in third and fourth, respectively.
“The 1V demonstrated poise and resilience after finding themselves nearly 20m behind very early on,” Head Coach Colin Regan said. “In nearly 20 years of rowing, I’ve seen only a handful of races as courageous as the one these guys rowed then.”
The second varsity boat faced a similar deficit at the beginning of its race, starting behind WPI and MIT off the line and stepping back to about four seats down just before 500 meters in.
By 750 meters in, with 1250 meters to go, the men passed WPI, extending their press in pursuit of MIT. Like the 1V, the 2V relied upon their ability to not fatigue, maintaining hull speed through the middle 1000 meters of the race. With 400 meters to go, the 2V caught MIT, extending their lead to open water with 200 meters to go and finishing with a seat or two open on MIT. WPI finished the race by sprinting to put their bow ball ahead of that of MIT as well.
Williams finished the 2000 meter race in 6:22.1, WPI in 6:27.79 and MIT in 6:28.15. “The 2V rowed a very mature race in how they were remarkably not bothered by an early deficit and instead chose to row their race and trust themselves,” Regan said. “They have a great spirit and do not allow themselves to be pushed around, which makes not only for good results on race day, but for also a great training environment every day.”
In the final race for the men, the 3V struck out for an enthusiastic end to the competition. Led by an experienced coxswain and several experienced rowers, the 3V boat also included several athletes who had never before competed in a collegiate rowing race.
The 3V had a challenging start but quickly found their composure. By the 1000 meter mark, the 3V had open water on WPI and from there continued to take more water. The men crossed the finish line in a time of 6:57.5 and WPI finished in second place with a time of 7:28.64.
Men’s crew will race again this Saturday against Wesleyan at their home course on Lake Onota in Pittsfield, Mass. at 8 a.m.