The No. 2 Cal men’s varsity crew team hosted No. 8 Boston University on Saturday at its home course in Redwood Shores, California, in a race between top 10 programs and contenders for the national title. The race marked the second of the season for the Bears, who were coming off a sweep over Stanford, Penn and Navy at the San Diego Crew Classic. The team was looking for a strong performance against a tough opponent to vault themselves to the No. 1 ranking, past Washington.
BU proved to be a more difficult challenge than the Bears’ previous opponents: The two varsity crew teams stayed level as they sprinted off the start line. The Cal varsity men, however, dug in after the initial sprint, dropping their stroke rate and pushing their lead to a length of open water between the two crews by the time the two boats crossed the halfway mark. The Bears took advantage of favorable conditions and finished with a time of 5:34.9 — 15 seconds ahead of the 5:49.8 mark set by the Terriers.
In the second varsity eight, Cal again opened up a lead by the race’s midway point and crossed the finish line with a time of 5:44.2 — a faster time than BU’s varsity eight and ahead of BU’s second varsity eight, which posted a time of 5:56.9 — helping the Bears complete their second straight sweep to open the racing season.
After the race, Cal head coach Mike Teti complimented the speed of BU and its head coach, Tom Bohrer, a multiple-time Olympic medalist and veteran of the rowing community.
“BU has always been a strong program,” Teti said to Cal Athletics. “It’s great for us to get good competition. We relish the opportunity to have this regatta.”
As the season progresses, Teti noted, the team is bringing several rowers — coming off injuries — back up to speed and is only just reaching full strength as it focuses on continuous improvement.
“We’re just trying to improve every week, and I think we’re doing that,” Teti said. “San Diego was pretty good, and today was a little better. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue this upward trend.”
Commenting on the performance of Cal’s top-two eights, Teti stressed the need to keep working but also complimented his rowers.
“I think both boats were fast,” Teti said. “There were definitely things to improve on. Everything was pretty good with our technique.”
Cal’s home course at Redwood Shores in the West Bay is occasionally difficult to navigate — the waves can sometimes get pretty bad — but Teti praised Cal’s coxswains’ performance in and preparation for their first race of the season on the team’s home course. The group boasts the national experience and championship pedigree of returning juniors Julian Venonsky and Erin Alexander, who coxed Cal’s second and third varsity eights to championships, respectively, in their events at the 2014 Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships.
George Wu covers men’s crew. Contact him at [email protected].