No. 13 Stanford men’s rowing hosted its first regatta of the year last weekend at Redwood Shores and had a successful Stanford Invitational after two consecutive weekends on the road.
Races started Friday night under unfavorable conditions for the Cardinal; although Stanford had the luxury of not having to travel for a third straight weekend, rowers still had to attend classes in the morning before preparing for their races.
“Our guys went to class today; everybody else was here and focused on the racing,” said head coach Craig Amerkhanian. “Because we’re the home team, our guys go to school, so we were disadvantaged tonight in that regard.”
“It’s kind of hard [racing] here because you get up and go to class and you have your social life too and then you have to come here and switch and go into rowing mode,” said freshman Ryan O’Rourke. “But I think we did well.”
Additionally, water conditions were not ideal. Despite regularly practicing Tuesday and Thursday evenings under similar water conditions, no Cardinal rowers on the roster had competed in a night regatta. In addition, all teams had to compete not only with each other but also with 20 mile-per-hour headwinds.
However, all Cardinal boats — the number one varsity eight boat (1V8), the number two varsity eight boat and the freshman eight boat — swept UC-San Diego, with the varsity boats winning by significant margins. It was the second win in a row for the 1V8, besting the Tritons by just over 20 seconds with a time of 6:23.7.
On Saturday, the Cardinal took on No. 12 Wisconsin in the morning session and the University of San Diego in the afternoon. The Cardinal ultimately finished the weekend by sweeping its home regatta after a tight race with Wisconsin and a more definitive win over USD.
“It’s good to cap off three weeks straight of racing with some wins,” said junior Kaess Smit. “We were up against some good crews and it’s nice to get some wins at home and be able to go back now and have the weekend off from racing to really make the changes we need to figure out more speed.”
The Cardinal finished ahead of Wisconsin by three seconds in a race that was determined in the first 1,000 meters of the course as the Cardinal jumped out to a lead and were able to maintain it through the remainder of the race. In the second race against USD, Stanford 1V8 again came out with a strong start, pushing into open water and taking the race by 29.5 seconds.
“We had Wisconsin in the morning and they’re always a really strong crew,” said sophomore coxswain Nathalie Weiss. “They came out to a good start, just constantly crept up in the first half of the race and then once we got the solid lead we really held that in the second half and we had the strong finish, so that was an exciting race. Then the second race of the day against USD, we had a strong start again and then we were able to weigh them down and find a base and go at a little bit of a lower rate.”
After this weekend, Stanford 1V8 has won four consecutive races. However, the team realizes that it still has work to do in setting the boat line-ups and improving its consistency.
“We know that it’s a turning point in the season and we know we have a lot of work to do and we don’t have a race next weekend, so we’re going to use this time just looking forward and getting better,” Weiss said.
“I think we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Smit said. “There’s been a lot of figuring out lineups and bringing new guys in and it takes time to figure out, so these next two weeks we’ve definitely got our work cut out.”
The Cardinal men got their first full day off on Sunday to recuperate before preparing to face California in the Big Row at Redwood Shores on May 3rd.
Contact Ashley Westhem at awesthem ‘at’ stanford.edu.