Back on the home front: Cal men’s rowing kicks off season with victory

Photo of Cal Women's Rowing at the Las Vegas Invitational at Lake Las Vegas
Matt Carter/KLC fotos/Courtesy

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Cal men’s rowing concluded a successful start to its season this last weekend with a dominant win against UC San Diego. The Bears’ varsity eight and second varsity eight boats finished first and second, respectively, followed by UCSD’s lone varsity eight boat finishing third with a time of 6:05.39. Cal’s varsity eight boat blew everyone else out of the water with a time of 5:45.86, while the second varsity boat notched a time of 5:53.49.

“I thought it was a strong performance for our first trip down the race course,” said Cal head coach Scott Frandsen in an email. “It was a valuable experience to go through the paces of getting ready to race and sitting at the start line. Lots to improve upon but a good first effort, for sure.”

Cal usually races its home meets at Redwood Shores in San Mateo, but COVID-19 regulations forced the Bears to revert back to their old ways, racing this weekend on the Oakland Estuary, Cal’s home course for nearly 100 years before changing courses in 1996. The last time the Bears hosted a race on the Oakland Estuary was May 11, 1996, when they faced Stanford for the Big Row.

The Bears won’t have much time off before taking on Stanford, Oregon State and Santa Clara this weekend in a two-day regatta. Frandsen noted that this aids in the Bears’ routine spring season process.

“The spring season is always a process of improving week to week with the end goal of having our best performance at our National Championships at the end of May,” Frandsen said in the email. “That hasn’t changed this year. Last weekend was a positive first step.”

Stanford opened its season this past weekend with losses to Washington in all six races. Oregon State is coming off a second-place finish to the almighty Huskies followed by a convincing sweep of Gonzaga. Santa Clara, meanwhile, was absolutely dominated by the Huskies this last weekend.

Cal women’s rowing will be back in action Saturday when it takes on Stanford on the Oakland Estuary for the Big Row. This regatta marks the halfway point in the Bears’ season and marks the second of three regattas before the Pac-12 Championships on May 16.

The Bears are coming off a commanding performance where they won five of six races at the Las Vegas Invitational just two weekends ago. Stanford, on the other hand, has not raced yet and will be kicking off its season this weekend.

May 4, 2019, marked the last time Cal took on Stanford for the Big Row, a race in which the Bears beat the Cardinal handily in the varsity eight but lost in the second and third varsity eight races, as well as in the first and second varsity four races.

This weekend, both the men’s and women’s teams will be looking to add a successful second regatta to 1-0 starts to their seasons.

Conner Parker covers rowing. Contact him at [email protected].