The women’s crew had its last races of the season at the NCAA championships last week. Cal was seeded ninth for the regatta and ended its season eighth overall while also winning the V4+ petite final.
In the final races Sunday, Cal took good standings in two out of the three. The blue and gold competed in the petite finals for the V8+ and V4+ events and the grand final for the 2V8+ crew placing 12th, seventh and third, respectively.
The 2V8+ crew had one of its best races of the season, making a comeback in the last 500 meters of the course. Taking third behind Stanford and Washington, the Bears finished with a time of 6:27.539, just three seconds behind first-place Stanford.
The V8+ boat was not as fortunate in its racing this weekend and faced more challenges on Saturday and Sunday.
“Overall, the weekend was a bit of a mixed bag, we had some really good racing in the second eight, some really good racing in the four,” said head coach Al Acosta. “The first eight had a really great race on Friday in what was a tough heat and then just sort of struggled the next two days which is unfortunate.”
In Friday’s third heat, the Bears raced against their top competition for the weekend, Stanford, but did have a sizable gap with the Cardinal.
The Bears placed second in the race behind Stanford with an almost ten second gap. Acosta felt that the NCAA race plans were well executed as far as tactics go, but that the quality of rowing was not where it should have been.
“I wish the regatta was two weeks later so we could have been more prepared, but unfortunately it wasn’t,” Acosta said. “If I could do it all over again, I would wish the first eight would row the same way they were training. Nothing new or different than what we have been doing, just would have been nice if they would have raced as they trained.”
Following the national championship, Cal rowers will begin to flock home to train with their respective club teams and national teams for the summer, while the coaching staff will travel around the country to recruit the future generation of Cal rowers in time for the beginning of next season.
The Intercollegiate Rowing Association championships are back, and the Bears are facing a challenging task of becoming back-to-back champions.
Heading into the weekend, which will be a three day long regatta beginning Friday, the blue and gold have already won the Pac-12 championship with their V8+ crew, earning a better time than the year before.
Cal will send three varsity 8+ crews as well as its V4+ boat to the IRAs in New Jersey to compete against the nation’s best.
“The last few days, the last few weeks have been good, good training and good momentum building and I just need to make sure that continues … until the regatta starts,” said head coach Scott Frandsen. “We’ve done the majority of the work and now it’s just resting, recovering and tapering and getting ready to race on Friday.”
The first heats of the weekend will begin Friday and progress to semifinals Saturday and finals Sunday. Momentum is key for the upcoming weekend, as the last race will decide the outcome of the regatta.
At last year’s championships, the blue and gold won the V8+ race, the flagship race of the weekend, finishing two seconds ahead of Yale. This year, the Bears have not raced against most Ivy League teams, but have performed well against East Coast and tough Pac-12 opponents in the past.
To secure their current state, the Bears rearranged their final lineup.
“(We) have our freshmen 8+ from the Washington dual and the Pac-12s as the core of what is now the 3V8+,” Frandsen said. “From before that, the 3V8+ from the Pac 12 (championship) are now found in the V4+ line up for the IRA. All of those lineups are together and starting to gel and hopefully that positive process can come together over the next few days.”
Small changes to the lineups even a few days before the race are not tough for the team in terms of solidifying a connection amongst the rowers. Changing five or six seats within a short timeline can cause some distress, but since the Bears practice in different intrasquad crews, Frandsen believes they have largely avoided the stress that comes with selection and making those kinds of final decisions.
The Bears will begin their quest for a 19th IRA title beginning Friday at 8 a.m.