As the waves rolled with the wind under a bright sun this weekend, rowers curled their bodies, swinging their oars and pushing themselves down the Potomac River.
The 25th annual George Washington University Invitational Regatta took place Friday and Saturday, featuring teams from nine schools. The Colonials placed second in the Gilbert H. Hood competition, the trophy awarded to the team with the combined point total – just five points behind Navy.
The women’s team nabbed first place overall with 90 points, bringing home the Wilkins Bowl, while the men’s team placed fourth overall, with 76 points.
"This regatta is 25 years old," women's head coach Eric Carcich said. "The Wilkins trophy has only been in our hands, this will be our third time, I believe, our third time winning. So that's a really special day for GW."
The women’s Varsity 8 won three races over Friday and Saturday, which included a victory over Navy by 0.70 seconds on the 2,000 meter course. The women’s second and third Varsity 8 teams also beat Navy in their races, which helped the Colonials earn a decisive finish.
The women also had successful races against St. Joseph’s and Duquesne. But the narrow win over Navy, a race in which the teams were never more than a half length apart, only added to the excitement of the day, Carcich said.
“It was really great that our girls were able to stay focused on their task and do what they did. Those races with Navy in the final of the Varsity 8 and the JV 8, that’s a really special race to be involved in. When you win by an arm’s length, it’s a pretty fun race to be on the right side of it,” Carcich said.
This has been a breakout season for the women’s program, Carcich said. The Colonials brought both the 1998 Cup and the George’s Trophy home after sweeping Georgetown and George Mason in a competition March 31. The 1998 Cup is given in honor of GW’s 1998 Varsity 8 team, which earned the school’s first trip to the NCAA Women’s Rowing Championship. The George’s Trophy was established last year, and is awarded to the top local program.
The Colonials build off of their successes by training hard each day, their head coach said, and using each win as a lesson in attaining victories.
“Learning how to win: There’s something there. It’s taking everything in stride and building off our success to get us to the next race and the next level of rowing,” Carcich said.
On the men’s side, head coach Mark Davis said he thought his team gave a “pretty solid performance.” The Varsity 8 beat both UC San Diego and Holy Cross in their races, but fell to Navy.
The men’s Freshman 8 beat Holy Cross, but fell to UC San Diego by just 0.40 seconds. The Freshman 8 also fell to Navy in their race against the Midshipmen. Despite the two losses, Davis sees his youngest competitors improving with each race.
“They’re really coming into their own a little bit and learning how to race,” Davis said.
Davis said he thought that the men’s team raced better this weekend than they had earlier in the season, pointing out the team’s consistency as a marked sign of improvement.
Both the men’s and women’s teams remained composed throughout their races, which allowed the crews to settle down and put forth their best efforts. The Colonials have high hopes for the rest of the season, with the women’s team looking to crack the top three in the A-10, while the men seek to qualify for their conference championship, the Eastern Sprints.
“So much of our sport is about training. We don’t compete that much, so in order to excel at this sport, you have to love training and the daily grind of practice,” Davis said.