GW crews open season at Head of the Potomac

The GW men’s and women’s crew teams opened their seasons in merciless heat Saturday at the Head of the Potomac.

Before a few hundred fans and participants, the Colonials finished with positive results but no victories, competing against other collegiate crews as well as various club teams.

The regatta was billed as a season-opening warm-up and lacked any visual drama. Boats did not start simultaneously and raced only against the clock.

The GW women’s varsity A-boat, entered as a heavyweight boat, finished third in the women’s open eights with a time of 17:05.7. The A-boat finished behind the U.S. Naval Academy (16:15.9) and Georgetown University’s A-boat (16:55.1). In the same race, the GW B-boat entered as a lightweight boat and finished seventh with a time of 18:03.1. The women’s varsity team also entered boats in a club eight race and open fours.

“I’m pretty pleased with the results,” GW head coach Steve Peterson said. “This is a good starting point. We have the raw talent to do well, but we just have a lot of work to do.”

The women’s A-boat returns only two rowers and the coxswain from last year’s NCAA boat and is hoping to overcome a lack of experience.

“I think we had a strong showing for such a young boat,” said Megan Morris, a sophomore who rowed with the A-boat.

The men’s varsity team entered one heavyweight boat in the men’s open eights. It finished sixth with a time of 15:29.4. The boat finished behind the winner, the University of Pennsylvania (14:26.3), Navy, Potomac Boat Club, the Georgetown A-boat, and the Georgetown E-boat. The men’s varsity also entered a boat in the open fours.

The men said they were encouraged by the race.

“We executed it the way we wanted,” said sophomore Pat McLaughlin, co-captain and coxswain. “We kept a solid base. It was a good first race and a good way to get the ball rolling.”

“Our goal is ultimately the race in June (the International Rowing Association National Championships),” men’s varsity coach Erich Shuler said. “This is just the first competitive step toward that goal. With that in mind, I think they had a really solid row. There was consistency and everyone felt positive about the race.”

The race, held at Thompson Boat Center at the end of Virginia Avenue, covered a 2.8-mile stretch of river that ended at the Roosevelt Bridge. It was the first of several fall races for GW, which are all about three miles long.

The Colonials raced between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday. Temperatures climbed into the 90s, and crews on the water had to deal with delays in addition to racing in the heat.

“We’re used to practicing at 5:30 in the morning, not 11:30. So, yeah, it was hot,” McLaughlin said. “But you forget about that when you start the race.”

The GW crew teams compete next at the Head of the Charles in Boston Oct. 17-18.

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