Blowing the competition away: Cal claims multiple wins despite high winds

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Karen Chow/Senior Staff

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If there’s one thing that will stop the Cal men’s rowing team from racing to victory, it’s definitely not the weather. The results were just as expected, despite the unexpected.

This weekend, the Bears sent boats out to Newport Beach to participate at the California Challenge Cup and the Lake Las Vegas Invitational in Henderson, Nevada. In Newport, the blue and gold started their morning by winning all three of its duals against Long Beach State, UCI and UC San Diego. However, Cal’s journey at the California Challenge Cup was cut short due to strong winds exceeding 13 mph, canceling all races after 11:30 a.m.

For the duals the Bears were allowed to participate in, they had strong performances. In its first race against LBSU, Cal maintained a steady lead throughout the course and was already a boat’s length ahead of Long Beach by the time it reached a quarter of the way.

Later into the day, as winds were picking up, Cal had a shakier start in its dual against Irvine. Despite going stroke-for-stroke at around 38 strokes per minute, the Anteaters held a three-seat advantage over their foe until the last 90 seconds, when Cal cranked up the heat and cruised past UCI.

In what they did not know would be their last race of the regatta, the Bears were already a half-boat’s length ahead of San Diego, 20 strokes in. A quarter through the course, the Bears held a substantial lead over the Tritons, ending their trip to Newport with yet another win.

The high winds did not settle outside the state of California. In Nevada, the other half of Cal men’s crew faced stronger winds reaching 22 mph at the Las Vegas Invitational, postponing the Bears’ races to Sunday. Due to the delay and efforts to fit all of the races into one day, Cal started its first race bright and early March 6 at 6:40 a.m.

The winds may have been strong, but the Bears came out even stronger. In all nine races Cal participated in, it averaged a finish of 21.42 seconds ahead of second place.

At the varsity eights’ first race of the season against Santa Clara and San Diego, the Bears were only challenged by the Broncos. Santa Clara had a strong start but could not keep up its pace when Cal pushed two boat-lengths in front after only two minutes. By the time the race was at its last 300 meters, the Bears were so far ahead that the camera was unable to fit the boat in its frame.

In the second varsity’s second event of the regatta against Oregon State and Santa Clara, the blue and gold won by the largest margin out of all the races: 29.96 seconds.

Despite these unpredictable and unfortunate circumstances, these regattas are advantageous in testing the rowers early on. Cal men’s crew has just more than a month to continue preparing for its next regattas in April — the Ebright Invitational and the Pac-12 Coast-to-Coast Challenge.

“For us, it’s an early season race,” said Cal head coach Scott Frandsen. “It’s something on the schedule that gives the guys something to focus on in January and February.”

Madison Lee covers men’s and women’s crew. Contact her at [email protected].