Cal men’s, women’s crew set to compete in different Bay Area events Saturday

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While everyone else will be hitting the snooze buttons this weekend, the Cal’s men’s and women’s crew teams will be up at the crack of dawn, readying themselves for the final events of the Bears’ fall season. Instead of hiding underneath warm comforters, both teams will be rowing on top of water routinely below 60 degrees Fahrenheit — temperatures dangerous for swimming.

The Cal’s men’s crew team will compete at the US Rowing Fall Speed Order-West Coast in Oakland on Friday and Saturday. As part of the two-day competition, every participant will have to partake in a six-kilometer ergometer test Friday in order to determine the start order for the 4,080-meter race Saturday. The ergometer is a machine that provides an indoor alternative, but not a substitute, for on-water rowing.

Although the field for the speed order has yet to be released, long-time rivals Stanford and Washington will not be present. Traditionally, the Bears haven’t made an appearance for the speed order either.

Speed orders are often used to establish a set of rankings for rowers vying for elite spots on the national team. Despite that, this weekend’s competition will presumably not have an impact on 2016 selection for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Cal is less than two weeks removed from the Princeton Chase in which it finished sixth in the Varsity Heavyweight 8+ division. The freshmen team, however, finished first in its division. Those finishes, combined with a second-place finish at last spring’s IRA Championships, indicate that the Bears’ roster will be a force to be reckoned with this weekend.

While the men’s team is participating in a larger competition, the Cal women’s crew team will face-off in a dual meet against Stanford. On Saturday, the cross-bay rivals will provide a preview of the annual Big Row that will be held at the end of April. Last spring’s Big Row was a dominating sweep for the Bears as Cal’s boats won all the races against Stanford. The matchup between the two squads will certainly be an exciting race as the 2015 Pac-12 Champion Bears finished second at the NCAA Championship last spring while Stanford finished sixth.

Cal’s last competition was more than three weeks ago when it rowed at the Head of the American Regatta in Gold River, California. Stanford, on the other hand, raced last week at the Head of the Lagoon Regatta in Foster City, California.

For both the men’s and women’s squads, figuring out who will be rowing and being able to practice together prior to the competition is integral to success this weekend. Practicing as a boat is crucial in crew because synchronized strokes is key to efficient racing. It’ll give each rower valuable regatta experience — an essential component for teams contending in national championships.

Contact Chriz Zheng at [email protected].