This weekend marks the beginning of the racing season for both the Cal men’s and women’s crew teams. The men’s team will send three boats to Nevada for the Las Vegas Invitational, and its other rowers will meet the women’s team in Newport Beach to race in the California Challenge Cup.
Competing in the Las Vegas Invitational and the California Challenge during the same weekend will force the men’s team to have two separate regattas. The top three boats will go to the Las Vegas Invitational to row in dual races against Colgate, Drexel, Oregon State and San Diego. The Invitational will not result in an overall winner but will rather be a series of races.
The California Challenge, including both men’s and women’s crew teams, will be slightly different — it is constructed as a round robin based bracket. Each crew will have a series of three to four races that will place them into brackets for semi-finals.
These events will serve as the season opener for men’s crew and is their first opportunity to shift from internal competition to external events. The rowers are excited by this prospect and know it will be a full team effort to come out on top like they have in previous years.
Last season, the Bears walked away as the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Champions with an undefeated record. Still, head coach Scott Frandsen insists that the team isn’t defending any kind of title.
“I’m trying to refrain from saying defending, as we’re not, we’re not defending anything,” said Frandsen. “This is a completely new campaign, new program, and a new group of guys. This is their chance to write their little chapter in the history book of Cal men’s rowing.”
Frandsen will rotate 11 to 12 rowers across the eight different seats this weekend according to the rankings within the squad. Depending on the weather at the Las Vegas Invitational, each boat should be able to race up to three times, allowing other rowers to have a chance to jump in.
This will not be the first race of the season for the women’s team, as they had their first event of the season at Lake Natoma in October at the Head Of the American regatta. Here, the Bears took first and second place for both the Collegiate 2- and Collegiate 8+ races and second place in the Collegiate 4+ events.
Women’s crew did not participate in the California Challenge last year and instead opened their spring season with the San Diego Crew Classic. The Bears finished consistently within the top three boats at the event and will have to start this season with the same inspiration if they hope to contend for the Pac-12 Championships and NCAA Championships again later this year.
Both Cal teams have a season of rowing ahead of themselves. The first step in accomplishing their ambitions for this campaign starts with this full weekend of events.