Victoria took home the Brown Cup for the men’s varsity race on Saturday with a time of 10:37.60 while UBC rode the favourable Esquimalt station to victories in the reserve and women’s varsity races at the Gorge Waterway.
The win was the second in a row for the men’s varsity eight and the 19th overall at the event, punctuating a year that saw UBC and UVic celebrate 25 years of men’s and women’s head-to-head competition at the event.
The Victoria men’s varsity boat opened up a two-length advantage late on their way to victory. By the time the teams pulled into Victoria’s inner harbour, victory was far out of reach for UBC.
“There’s a whole bunch of changes that we made (to that boat) and the athletes really rose to the occasion today,” said Vikes men’s head coach Aalbert Van Schothorst. “It could have gone either way and I think that UBC rowed an incredible race. That UBC crew is an incredible crew.
“When UBC comes to the line you have to be quite serious about how you approach it and they row one of the toughest racing styles that you can compete against. They come out of the gate and they come at you and they are relentless … It’s an honour to race against UBC.”
The men’s varsity race would see the only win for UVic on the day after UBC won the two reserve races and closed out the day with a victory in the women’s varsity race, which saw the Thunderbirds win the women’s varsity title for just the third time in 25 years.
For Van Schothorst, the reserve loss was not a reflection of the work put in by his crew.
“The reserve race was a bit surprising for us because they are a very strong crew with some talented athletes and some really good internal leadership,” said Van Schothorst. “They (the Victoria men) got out and I thought they did a very, very good job.
“UBC’s reserve crew has more experience on the line and so it seems that that and the Esquimalt line paid off for them in the end but I think that the reserve crew rowed a heroic race.”
The UBC women’s varsity eight came across the line in a time of 11:26.77 after the boats passed the Gorge Rowing Club side-by-side. The fact that the two sides stayed even for so long despite UBC starting on the Esquimalt side was a good sign for head coach Rick Crawley.
“UBC has some significant talent led by a world champion in stroke seat,” said Crawley. “I think our girls were game and we held them on the big corner. It was after that that they moved out, kind of what we did to them last year.”
Regardless of the three losses for the Vikes, the experience was an incredible one for all crews involved.
“It was pretty amazing,” said Crawley of the day and the atmosphere at the event. “This was probably the best attended Brown Cup we’ve had. That’s good and hopefully we can build on that when we host two years hence.”
Next up for both the men and the women is a trip to California for the San Diego Crew Classic from April 1-2.