Rowers from across the nation will meet on the banks of the Potomac River Saturday for the 17th annual GW Invitational Crew Classic.
Teams from the University of Tennessee, Columbia University, the U.S. Naval Academy, St. Joseph’s and Georgetown are set to compete with GW in the event, which coincides with the closing of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. It begins at 9 a.m. at the Thompson Boat Center and can be viewed from Washington Harbour.
The event typically draws big crowds to the Waterfront, with the Harbour restaurants full of patrons and many more people walking, biking and rollerblading on the pier. But for GW, the day is only about a race.
“Our goal is always to come in first in all the races we enter,” GW junior Sarah Hopewell said.
The teams will participate in two varsity eight races and two novice races, and Hopewell said victories this weekend would help make the season a huge success for the Colonials’ program.
Last year the men’s team finished in third place while the women finished second. The 2003 race was not easy for the rowers, as stormy conditions caused turbulent waters that forced race organizers to shorten the normal course from 2,000 meters to 1,500 meters.
The women’s team is looking to improve on its third-place showing last Sunday when it finished last out of three teams in the GW-hosted Playfair Cup on the Potomac. Navy and Boston University claimed first and second place in the meet, respectively.
The men’s team looks to make up for the competition it missed last Sunday when the Occoquan Sprints in Occoquan, Va., were cancelled due to high winds.
Both teams are looking to the GW Invitational to gain momentum before the A-10 Championship at the end of this month, but the competition at the invite is usually tough, men’s head coach Matt Boyle said.
“It’s tough to make the grand final,” he said, “But we’re going into this competition with high expectations of finishing well.”
The men finished third overall at the Crew Classic last year.
“Our strength is senior leadership,” said Boyle. “We have five seniors in the boat this year who were part of our strength last year … This is not an individual sport. They have to work well as a team to win.”