Four boats will head south this weekend as both the Vikes men’s and women’s rowing teams are set to take on some of the top crews in North America at the San Diego Crew Classic on March 24-25.
The Vikes women will send three boats to the regatta. The varsity eight will compete in the premier event on the women’s side, vying with some heavy-hitters in the rowing world for the right to claim the Jessop-Whittier Cup.
Battling against teams that finished second and third at the NCAA Championships last year in the form of the University of California and the University of Texas, the Vikes women, who won the Canadian University Championship in the varsity eight in November, will get the chance to test their mettle against some fast crews.
“We are moving at that level and who knows what will happen on race day,” said Vikes head coach Rick Crawley. “We are right in that mix of very top crews, we are going at a speed that is pretty outstanding by any standards and I think we can compete with anyone down there.”
The Vikes men will send just one boat down to San Diego, but plan on returning with two.
The lightweight men’s eight will compete for the Secretary of the Navy Cup, a race they finish second in one year ago.
“From last year to this year the boat has matured, they have been able to get it going in training and all of the guys trying to get a seat are really good guys, which means there is enough depth in the program to push that boat,” said Vikes head coach Aalbert Van Schothorst.
With a limited number of entries in the lightweight event, the race will be a straight final, making it all the more important for the Vikes to put down their best time in a high-pressure situation.
“That lightweight eight is crushing it right now, they have some serious speed and it will be fun to see what they can do,” said Van Schothorst. “The boats that they’re up against are extremely strong, the tough part now is making it happen in that one race.”
While in San Diego the Vikes will have some other business to attend to, replacing the damaged heavyweight eight boat named after former head coach Howie Campbell.
“We are picking up the replacement eight for the Howie Campbell in San Diego and it will be ready in time for the Brown Cup,” said Van Schothorst.
The Vikes women will also be sending two other boats to the regatta.
The lightweight women won’t get the chance to defend the title they claimed in San Diego last year after not enough entries in the lightweight event forced them to move into the Cal Cup. Racing against heavyweight crews, the Vikes will be in tough but have been rowing extremely well in the lead up to the race.
The final crew competing will be the Vikes reserve eight boat and in an event that features 18 boats, they are in for a competitive weekend of racing.
“The reserves are going really well but it’s hard to tell, in terms of toughness they are in the toughest event there” said Crawley. “The first goal for them is to make the ‘A’ Final, if they do that then that’s a huge achievement and anything after that is a bonus.”
W Reserve Jackie Ann Stitt Hungness Trophy
C: Hannah Kennedy
8: Layla Balooch
7: Alex Hale
6: Kirsten Edwards
5: Eliza-Jane Kitchen
4: Judy Beestermoeller
3: Kirsten McKay
2: Maekala Smithers
1: Reba Kingston