For spectators at the 11th Annual GW Invitational Crew Classic Saturday, weather conditions were ideal. The sun shined on the crowds gathered at Washington Harbor watching the University of Virginia recapture the Gilbert H. Hood Jr. Point Trophy.
But for the rowers, the weather conditions were not as spectacular. A strong cross tail wind and fast currents made it more difficult to row.
Putting their home-course advantage to good use, the GW crew team had solid performances, especially on the women’s side.
Point-title winner Virginia beat the field of 12 schools by amassing 68 points with seven first-place victories, a pair of second-place finishes and a third-place finish.
The Cavaliers finished three points ahead of the Naval Academy and Georgetown University, who tied for second place. GW finished in fourth place in the final team standings, one spot lower than its third-place finish last year.
“A lot of times we put in a lot of hard work and people don’t notice, so it feels good to have them on the bank cheering,” GW rower Frank Craycroft said. “I think we were a lot more comfortable than the other crews.”
Racing at home also meant GW was familiar with the 2,000-meter course along the Potomac River.
“We know when to bring it up, when to bring it down, when to speed it up,” Lucy Morgan said.
The women’s varsity eight came in second place with a time of 5:43.83, only two seconds behind Virginia. Beating top crews from Georgetown, Navy and Columbia University will most likely place the Colonial women in the top 15 crews in the nation.
The boat, comprised of Amy Holland, Tara DeRosa, Morgan, Shannon Hapgood, Abbie Norris, Samantha Byrd, Erin Moore, Amanda McDougall and coxswain Deb Friedman, is also in a good position for a bid to the NCAA Collegiate Championships May 28-30.
“We know we rowed a really strong race, and we have the power and talent to beat Virginia,” Morgan said.
The women’s varsity lightweight eight also came in second behind the Cavaliers, losing by less than a second with a time of 5:59.88.
“They came down the race course nose-to-nose and Virginia edged them out at the end,” head coach Steve Peterson said.
This finish, just behind the number three team in the nation, will probably move the women’s lightweight eight up one notch to a number five ranking in the lightweight division.
The only first-place finish for the Colonials was the women’s novice lightweight eight, which beat second place Georgetown by more than 16 seconds with a time of 6:13.52.
With a young squad and only two rowers returned from last year’s 22-2 varsity team, the men’s crews were not as successful but gained some valuable learning experience.
The GW men’s varsity eight crew was disappointed after failing to qualify for its final, which was eventually won by Georgetown with a time of 5:08.98.
“We’re disappointed,” Craycroft said. “Really there’s not a team out there that I don’t think we can beat. We’re a young team, and we’re going to make a lot of mistakes – and when you’re going against the top teams in the country, you can’t get away with that,” Craycroft said.
In the early morning heats, the Colonials battled Georgetown, which is coached by last year’s GW’s men’s Coach Jim King, and got flustered at the end of the race.
“Some days they are focused and move on, and some days it’s just going to be learning to overcome their mistakes,” Peterson said. “In this case, they had to be sure of what’s going on inside the boat instead of worrying about Georgetown.”
To pick up boat speed, several men’s team members said they need to work on their technique to remain synchronized.
“We have the tools to be a great team, but we need to learn to row more as a team,” Justin Hutchinson said.
The GW men’s junior varsity eight made its final and finished fourth with a time of 5:50.55.