Sixteen races. Sixteen wins. The results were as clear as the skies of the Bay Area this weekend: The Bears were the team to beat.
With how reliable and consistent Cal men’s crew has been all season, it more than proved itself with a clean sheet.
The team split up between two regattas, sending the first (1V8+), second (2V8+) and third (3V8+) varsity eights to the Pac-12 Challenge in Redwood Shores, while the fourth (4V8+), fifth (5V8+) and sixth (6V8+) varsity eights headed closer to home, to the Ebright Invitational in Oakland.
At the Pac-12 Challenge, No. 3 Cal competed in a total of eight races against four teams: No. 11 Boston, No. 15 Wisconsin, No. 9 Northeastern and No. 18 Oregon State.
“It was a really good weekend of racing for us,” said head coach Scott Frandsen. “We came out and executed exactly what we wanted to do, had races that we learned from and got better throughout the weekend.”
In addition to impressive results, Cal continued to demonstrate its ability to progress. For the results on Saturday morning, the Bears kept everyone at the edge of their seat, after scraping by the Terriers with an average margin of only 0.89 seconds in two races. Later that day, in their three races against the Badgers, the Bears eased the dramatic flair by finishing before their competition with a more comfortable 13.68 seconds, on average.
Sunday morning was when the blue and gold won with the largest difference. In two races against the Huskies, and a final race against the Beavers, the Bears came out on top with an average margin of 18.41 seconds.
Cal’s success did not stop there. In the East Bay, the Bears won all eight of their races throughout the weekend at the Ebright Invitational. The 4V8+, 5V8+ and 6V8+ boats faced San Diego’s 1V8+, UC San Diego’s 1V8+ and 2V8+ as well as Santa Clara’s 2V8+ and 3V8+ boats. Cal triumphed with an average winning margin of 14.96 seconds across all eight races.
Although the Bears were immensely successful this weekend, there is always room for improvement — especially with such a competitive schedule ahead.
“Areas to work on are the start sequence and the finishing or sprint sequence, which weren’t as sharp as they needed to be — that’s kind of standard for this time of year,” Frandsen said. “We worked a lot on base pace and the higher strokes at the start. The higher strokes at the finish aren’t firing quite as efficiently but we’ll work on that, we’ll get there.”
The men’s team is gearing up for its duals against Washington and Stanford, as well as the Pac-12 championships in these upcoming weeks, along with the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships in the next couple of months.
Across state lines, in Henderson, Nevada, the No. 3 women’s team competed at the Lake Las Vegas Invitational. It saw the same success as the men’s team on Saturday, but showcased some rockier performances the next day amidst harsher weather conditions.
The Bears sent four boats to the desert: 1V8+, 2V8+, 1V4+ and 2V4+. For the first day of the regatta, all four boats won their races against No. 18 Oregon State, No. 19 Alabama and UCLA. However, on Sunday, the Bears faced high winds — strong enough to force a delayed start to the regatta. In the morning, there was a headwind of up to 14 mph, creating textured waters and whitecaps. The Bears were unable to conquer the weather, as they lost their first two races on the final day.
The first varsity eight came second to Penn, despite leading the first portion of the race. After racing head-to-head with the Quakers for the latter half of the stretch, the Bears were unable to secure the final push. They crossed the finish line in 7:11.41, less than half a second after Penn. The second varsity eight held a similar fate, coming in third to Oregon State and Penn.
Luckily, the weather subdued throughout the day, and the first varsity four and second varsity four were able to end the day on a better note, coming in first for both races.
Nevertheless, women’s crew has another busy week ahead. As duals against Washington and Stanford await, along with the Pac-12 and NCAA championships, Cal continues to keep its focus forward.
Madison Lee covers men’s and women’s crew. Contact her at [email protected].