The team traveled up to Spring Lake, Michigan this past Saturday and Sunday looking to get back into race action after a solid period of training since the Marietta duel and the San Diego Crew Classic.
The Varsity 8+ kicked off the weekend of racing early Saturday morning, lining up against Purdue and Cincinnati in a robust tailwind and chop. The Varsity 8 stuck with Purdue off the start, but could not cement an effective rhythm in the rough water, mounting a number of pushes to regain some swing, but ultimately falling to both their opponents by about five seconds and posting a time of 5:57.
The Novice 8+ was next up and eager to capitalize on a couple solid weeks of training since a very productive San Diego regatta. In a race that would later be protested and re-rowed, the novice were down early off the start due to a starter’s error, but fought back well to fall by only a length to Purdue’s A boat and defeated their B boat.
An energized JV 8+ took the water next against Purdue’s JV and lightweight eights, and Cincinnati’s JV. The JV worked well through the first 1000 meters staying right in the race with Purdue’s boats and distancing themselves from UC, but was unable to maintain their strong starting rhythm in the second half, finishing in a time of 6:11, about 12 seconds off of Purdue’s quick lightweight eight, and only a length back from their JV.
The novice fours would cap off the morning, each competing against an Illinois four. The A four raced well but yielded a 7.9 second margin to their opponents while posting a time of 6:56 and the B four defeated their Illinois counterparts by a large 10.4 second margin on the way to finishing in 7:44. After a very short turnaround, both boats were back out on the water, each against Michigan fours. Despite racing on tired legs, the novice did well to stay consistent, finishing in 6:58 and 7:56 respectively, unfortunately falling in each contest to Michigan.
In the afternoon, the novice took the water against Michigan’s A and B novice eights, defeating both with clean rowing and strong rhythm, posting a time of 6:02, defeating Michigan’s crews by 9 and 25 seconds respectively. As a result of the morning’s protest, the novice got another shot at Purdue, closing the gap to only 2 seconds after a very close race, and sitting second in the Novice 8+ standings at the conclusion of Saturday’s racing.
The JV returned to the course later in the afternoon against Michigan’s 2V, 3V and 4V, improving on the morning race to go down the course in 6:10 to finish third. After discussing technical improvements and taking a longer warmup in the afternoon, the V8+ raced with more composure in the afternoon in their duel against Michigan, maintaining a tight margin through the early stages of the race that ultimately lengthened to an 11 second deficit.
After a long day of racing Saturday, the Irish crews returned to Spring Lake Sunday morning for one more race apiece. The JV raced first, coming in second to Grand Valley while defeating Cincinnati on the way to a 6:31 finish. The Novice Fours were next. The A four raced Grand Valley and Cincinnati’s A boats, coming in third and close on GVSU’s heels. The B four raced GVSU and UC’s B fours to a hard fought third place finish. In their fourth and final race of the weekend, the novice 8 ran away from both MSU and Illinois for a big win in 6:22 in tough conditions. Finally, to cap off racing, the Varsity 8+ lined up against Grand Valley and Cincinnati. The Varsity struggled to contend with a heavy crosswind but was still able to defeat UC after falling to them the previous day, but fell to GVSU after posting a time of 6:01.
In the overall standings, the Irish finished 5th, with the Novice 8+ turning in an impressive second place overall finish. While the team had hoped for better results across the board, each crew left Spring Lake with valuable lessons learned and much to work on and drive them.