Final crew race canceled

The No. 21 ranked GW women’s crew team placed second in Saturday morning’s competitive races against No. 9 Boston University and the United States Naval Academy on the Potomac. But bad weather in the afternoon races forced officials to cancel the final race of the day against Duke University.

The women’s varsity eight squad took on too much water during its race and had its boat swamped just after pushing off the dock. Although there were no injuries, the brand new shell – scheduled to be dedicated this weekend – suffered considerable damage.

The water was really bad, said senior Bridget Walsh. The river had white caps. Our boat had been doing pretty well during the day, so we were confident, but we shouldn’t have raced Duke in the afternoon. The water was unsafe. When our boat started sinking from under us, it was pretty dramatic situation. People had to get rescued from the water.

As for the swamping, I am obviously depressed by it, but I won’t dwell on it, said head coach Steve Peterson. The athletes are all OK, and that is the most important thing. Looking back, I wish the referees had canceled the racing sooner, but hindsight is 20/20.

Saturday morning’s conditions had been far from ideal as the crews raced into strong headwinds, which made the last 500 meters of the race extremely choppy. Officials were forced to shorten the race distance – normally 2000 meters – to 1,750 meters in the afternoon racing to make for safer conditions.

Earlier in the morning, the women had better luck and safer water. GW, BU and Navy were even through the first 500 meters. However, the powerful Terriers began to make their move 750 meters into the race. Through the halfway point GW and Navy were even, but BU had pushed ahead to almost a full boat-length lead. As the crews came into the final 500 meters, the Terriers continued to increase their margin while the GW women pushed past Navy. In the end, BU took home the Virginia Playfair Trophy, winning by an open water margin over GW. The Colonials finished a full boat-length ahead of Navy.

The varsity did a great job, Peterson said. To keep working toward an NCAA bid, we needed to do two things: First, beat Navy, which we did, and second, get within seven seconds of Boston University. They were ranked ninth in the last national poll and that has been the margin they have beaten other crews by. So, if we were within the seven-second margin, we should hopefully move up, and we won by 6.6 seconds.

Next week, the GW crews host the 13th annual GW Invitational Crew Classic on the Potomac, and Walsh said they will face intense competition from Navy and the University of Virginia.

The races start at Thompson’s Boat Center at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

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