The Cal men’s rowing team concluded a perfect weekend of rowing Sunday when it swept Stanford in the annual Big Row. The Bears’ varsity eight boat recorded a time of 5:44.18 with the Cardinal’s varsity eight finishing nearly 7 seconds behind with a time of 5:51.05. The result was similar with the second varsity eight who finished with a time of 5:53.56, followed by Stanford’s second varsity eight coming in at 6:07.08.
“It was great to race Stanford again and obviously, it’s an important stepping stone in the lead-up to the UW dual and then we’ll get to see Stanford again in the conference championships,” said senior Jack Robertson. “They are high-quality competition so it’s a good chance to test our speed.”
Just the day before, both of the blue and gold’s boats bested Santa Clara and Oregon State in dual matchups. Against the Broncos, the Bears’ varsity eight finished with a time of 5:44.30, dominating Santa Clara’s crew who finished at 6:20.17. Similarly, the Bears’ second varsity eight won in convincing fashion against the Broncos, with a time of 5:54.21 to Santa Clara’s 6:20.17.
The weekend’s outlook was quite different for the Cal women’s rowing team, however, as it found itself being swept by Stanford in the Big Row. The varsity eight finished at 5:58 to the Cardinal’s 6:05. The second varsity eight fell to Stanford by 9 seconds while the varsity four lost 6:39 to 6:54.
On the bright side for the Bears, Saturday marked junior Lottie Orr’s first race in about a year and a half due to injury.
“It was really exciting to be back and it made me realize again why we train so hard and why I love rowing,” Orr said. “Just being back on the water, going hard and racing with your teammates is what makes you addicted to the sport.”
As they do every year for this regatta, the Bears dedicated Saturday’s races to Jill Costello, the late Cal coxswain who passed away in 2010 at age 22 to lung cancer. Jill’s parents were in attendance at the regatta where the Bears wore “Team Jill” tank tops.
“It’s so important that we carry on her legacy … and (share) how resilient and courageous Jill was and that we all want to strive to be as much like her and support her,” Orr said. “The fact that her parents come and we all get to see … and talk to (them) is so inspirational because Jill was an inspiration to everyone on this team. It brings us together and makes us stronger and gives us that little extra bit to fight for while we are racing.”
This weekend, both of the men’s and women’s top boats will be traveling up to Seattle where they will square off against almighty Washington for the Windermere Cup. For both the men’s and women’s teams, this rivalry matchup will act as the final regatta before the Bears travel to Sacramento on May 16 for the Pac-12 Championships.
“I think that the UW dual is one of the most important races on the calendar for us,” Robertson said. “Obviously, it presents a unique opportunity in the dual format, and Washington being our traditional rivals is an opportunity that we really relish.”
While the women’s varsity eight, second varsity eight and varsity four are racing against Washington this weekend, the third and fourth varsity eight will head up to Sacramento State for a dual regatta with the Sacramento State Hornets.
Both of Cal’s rowing teams will be looking to gear up and fine-tune their technique this weekend for the final regular-season regattas of the year.
Going down the final stretch of the season, Robertson notes that what he is looking forward to in the final few races of his collegiate career is “going fast and savoring the moment with (his) team.”
Conner Parker covers rowing. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.