May Race Reports

Photo by Luke Reynolds.

USRowing Central Youth District Championships
In all, 19 clubs competed at this year’s Central Youth District Championships in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, during the weekend of May 6-7. Hosted by USRowing, the event qualified nine central crews to race in various events at Youth Nationals in Sarasota, Florida, in June. Conditions were relatively fast all weekend, with a crosswind occasionally blowing across the 2,000-meter course. When all was said and done, all three points trophies were awarded to the home crew, OKC Riversport, who qualified 12 boats for nationals at the event. Not far behind was Parati Crew of The Woodlands, Texas, who earned 10 nationals bids. Notable performances included the women of OKC Riversport, who set the standard, taking first place in 15 of the 20 women’s events. In the men’s youth eight, Dallas United dominated the competition, finishing 23 seconds ahead of the second-place cross-town rival of Dallas Jesuit Crew. In the women’s youth eight event, also a national qualifier, OKC bested Dallas United Crew and Texas Rowing Center by a healthy eight-second margin. The all-girls crew of Founders Rowing Club out of Dallas, Texas, had impressive showings in the women’s sculling events, taking gold in the youth novice quad, under-17 single, and earning second in the youth quad and lightweight double.

World Rowing Cup I
Great Britain picked up where it left off at the first World Rowing Cup of this nascent Olympic cycle May 5-7 in Serbia. Team GB, which finished atop the medals table at last summer’s Olympics, was the overall points winner at the series opener, collecting a total 60 points to the Netherlands’ 47 and Poland’s 36. In all, Great Britain picked up 11 medals in 14 events, but was dealt a blow in the men’s eight when a surging Dutch crew rowed through them for gold. Dutch rowers earned an impressive eight medals overall at the regatta, with Poland nabbing seven to kick off the international season. Swiss scullers ruled the open singles events, with Jeannine Gmelin taking the women’s single and Nico Stahlberg prevailing over Rio silver medalist Damir Martin on the men’s side. The World Rowing Cup series was launched in 1997 and consists of a series of three events. The overall World Rowing Cup winners are determined after the third event. The remaining two stages this year take place in Poznan, Poland, June 16-18, and Lucerne, Switzerland, July 7-9.

saratoga invitational
Thousand of athletes from 63 teams came to Saratoga, New York’s Fish Creek to race 1,329 boats with 7,434 total racing seats in the Saratoga Invitational, April 29-30, making the juniors-only regatta as big as the major fall head races. Saratoga’s special sauce is its 10-lane 1,500-meter course. “With 10 lanes, instead of five, six-boat races, we can do three heats and 270 kids get to race in 24 minutes,” explained regatta director Chris Chase. “We do six or seven regattas a year, depending on the year, and we realized it’s a hardship for teams to come for three days, between being out of school, hotels, feeding them, and buses. Something had to give and our water is pretty equally fair and wide enough to put 10 lanes in and still have a warm-up lane. So for us, we can have a three-day regatta in two days because of the course. It cut costs.” “Ten lanes—go big or go home!” enthused PNRA/Mercer director of rowing Justin Ochal, whose crews did well across the 37 events they entered. “Every boat that’s entered gets raced. It doesn’t matter what the conditions are, you’ve got 10 lanes out there.”The regatta featured fast racing in addition to huge participation, with defending national champion Saugatuck besting Cincinnati Juniors and Greenwich Crew in the women’s varsity eight final. In the men’s varsity eight final, Cincinnati Juniors edged Community Rowing, Inc. and PNRA/Mercer, with all three crews within 1.2 seconds. New Canaan’s Claire Campbell won the women’s single, with Saratoga’s Emory Sammons the top male single sculler.

EARC Eastern Sprints
The Cornell lightweight varsity and Yale heavyweight varsity each survived a late-race charge from Harvard to win their respective championships at the EARC Eastern Sprints, Sunday May 14 on a windy, rainy Lake Quinnsigamond in Worcester, Massachusetts. For the Big Red, the championship marked a third perfect regular season and Sprints win in the past four years. For Yale, the win was a successful defense of last year’s championship with mostly the same athletes, but this year was different, according to coach Steve Gladstone, “There was a whole different narrative. We went with the same lineup from San Diego. We just needed a bit of a shift. Everybody in that boat, with the exception of Tom Digby, have won it and a lot of the guys have won it twice. There’s a level of confidence that allows people to reach their best performance at times like this.” For lightweight coach Chris Kerber, adding yet another undefeated season and Sprints title to Cornell’s remarkable history results from sticking to the plan. “For us it’s a day in and day out commitment to what we’re doing. They’re a spectacular group of athletes to work with, my fastest eight by far, ever,” said Kerber. “Just keeping coal in the belly of that train,” will be the key to continued success at the IRA.