Both the men’s and women’s rowing teams faced off against Washington this weekend at the annual Windermere Cup. Usually, the Windermere Cup marks the opening day of the rowing season and features many different races which are spectated by thousands of fans. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was reduced to a single matchup between Cal and Washington on the Montlake Cut in Seattle.
The men’s team had a rather disappointing weekend. All of the Bears’ boats fell to the Huskies with the exception of the third varsity eight, which won its race by more than six seconds.
“I think they raced well and they put themselves in a position to capitalize on a misstep by Washington,” head coach Scott Frandsen said. “They handled themselves really well in that second half of that race when they were out in front and they were able to pull away.”
While the 3V8 shined, Cal’s other squads faltered. The first varsity eight fell to the Huskies by more than four seconds with the second varsity eight losing by more than five seconds. Cal’s fourth varsity eight lost its race as well by more than eight seconds.
The women’s team did not seem to have recovered from the previous weekend’s sweep by Stanford and ended up getting swept by Washington this weekend. The Bears were bested by 11 seconds in the first varsity eight and by more than 12 seconds in the second. The Bears’ varsity four lost by more than 22 seconds.
Senior on the team, Bella Marshall, notes that losing back-to-back races to Stanford and Washington isn’t ideal, but it fuels the team’s motivation to improve in the weeks leading up to the championship stretch.
“We all love the sport and obviously two weekends in a row of tough outcomes has only given us more excitement to be back at practice and row really hard,” Marshall said.
The Bears also had multiple boats competing at the Sacramento State Invitational on Saturday. Racing on Lake Natoma, Cal’s second varsity four won by nearly thirteen seconds in its race, with its fourth varsity eight boat coming in second to Sacramento State’s top boat. The Bears’ fifth varsity eight also came in second.
Marshall notes the positives she has taken away from the women’s season thus far.
“The biggest thing that I’m proud of has been the amount of improvement that we’ve done,” Marshall said. “We’ve come back in every single practice and we’ve gotten better. Who knows what that’ll add up to but at the end of the day, but that’s all you can hope for as a senior on the team: people coming back, wanting to improve, wanting to get faster.”
This past weekend marked the final regatta of the regular season for both of Cal’s men’s and women’s teams. The teams now have a two week break to gear up for the Pac-12 Championships on May 16 in Sacramento. To win a Pac-12 Championship, the Bears will need to win a rematch against the Huskies.
“They’re a great rival for us in that I think both programs are pushed and held accountable to get better because our two programs are really fast,” Frandsen said. “The race against Washington was a good marker of where we were at May 1. Obviously, the goal was to go up there and win, but now we know what the challenge is. We’ve got two weeks to see if we can close the gap for the Pac-12 and then two weeks after that to see where we can get to for the IRA National Championships.”
Conner Parker covers rowing. Contact him at [email protected].