Cal’s men’s and women’s crew teams both had successful races at the Redwood Shores with fast and consistent racing plans that were well-executed.
The men’s team raced solely against Stanford while the women’s team participated in Title IX races that consisted of dual races split among SMU, Iowa and Stanford.
In recent years, Stanford has been picking up speed in its program, making the Cardinal a real competitor for the Bears, but it wasn’t quite enough.
“We knew Stanford had some real speed coming into the weekend and we knew we had to bring our A game — especially starting with a different line up that we didn’t have previously,” V8+ coxswain Luca Vieira said. “I was really happy to put together our race plan against Stanford and I think we executed that really well.”
Last year’s Big Row was canceled due to health and safety protocols, so last season’s Pac-12 championships were the last time these two Bay Area rivals went head to head.
At Pac-12s, Cal’s V8+ beat Stanford by more than 10 seconds with a final time of 5:36.90 compared to 5:49.67. The Bears have since improved their race time by five seconds, completing this weekend’s races in 5:31.7 to Stanford’s 5:36.0.
Stanford is now around the speed at which the Bears were last season, showing its improvement but also highlighting the consistent force that is Cal men’s rowing.
“It was a good step forward for both boats, JV (2V8+) got started, raced and were able to move away from Stanford pretty consistently throughout the whole race,” said head coach Scott Frandsen. “Varsity had a good step on from where it was in our last couple of races, in the Pac-12 challenge and in Washington, and made some good improvements at different stages in the race.”
Going into the weekend, the Bears wanted to nail down their third and final 500 meters of the races. The blue and gold had a solid last 500 meters, but had room for improvement in the second to last portion of their race.
The V8+ and 2V8+ crews were the only two to race against Stanford due to the Cardinal’s program size, leaving the rest of Cal’s boats to have intra-squad races. Frandsen was impressed by how the 5V8+ squad held up against the 4V8+ and the close race that they had.
In addition to the men’s team’s successful weekend, women’s crew had one of its most accomplished weekends of the season.
The Bears, when racing against SMU and Iowa, stayed consistent and had the right speed throughout the entirety of the races.
The only crew the blue and gold lost to was Stanford in the 3V8+ dual race, where the Cardinal finished five seconds ahead of the Bears.
“We tried out some new lineups in every boat from the previous weekend and all of the crews did a really nice job,” said head coach Al Acosta. “We got some separation between our first eight and our second eight which is something we have been trying to achieve for a while so it was good to see that.”
As Cal has been approaching the end of its season, it has been trying to find the right combination of rowers in lineups and the Bears feel they are finally getting in the right direction after winning eight out of their nine races.
When asked about correcting the lineups for this weekend, and for the more important last two races of the season, Acosta felt that the team was getting close to the right crews.
“We definitely took a step in the right direction and we have two weeks to go until Pac-12s to test it again and again and again to see if we got it right, but we feel like we made some good changes and are heading in the right direction,” Acosta said.
These races were the last regular duals of the season before both teams are set to have their first half of championship races at the Pac-12s in two weeks.