High winds were once again an obstacle for the Grand Valley rowing team, this time at the American Collegiate Rowing Association championship in Oklahoma City. Throughout the weekend, sustained crosswinds of over twenty miles an hour persisted, with gusts of over forty miles an hour at times, challenging coxswains and small boat rowers alike. However, in the end, things would work out for the Lakers, as GVSU succeeded in scoring its third straight ACRA Women’s and ACRA Overall Team Points Championships, continuing its winning streak since the inaugural ACRA Championship.
Saturday’s heats and semifinals went well for the Lakers, with only the Men’s Novice 8 narrowly missing the grand finals. In light of the conditions, many races were run in a time-trial format, foregoing the challenges of alignment and providing a fair means of lane choice for races that were straight to final, such as the Women’s Single.
Sunday’s races were plagued by even harsher winds, which became progressively worse throughout the morning. The first Grand Valley boat to compete on Sunday, the Women’s Single, managed to start without a hitch, resulting in a one-two finish for GVSU, with Krista Rapisarda and Hanna Jones taking first and second, respectively.
The Men’s Double, rowed by twins Andrew and Peter Zwierzynski, struggled in the high winds and waves, nearly swamping in the unprotected Lane 7, finishing in sixth place with the hull almost completely full of water.
They would be the last small boat to race, as shortly thereafter officials suspended racing because of the conditions, sending the GVSU Women’s Double, Men’s Pair, Women’s Pair, and Men’s Novice Lightweight 4 back to the docks. After over an hour’s delay, regatta officials decided to cancel the remaining small boat and the majority of petit final races, scoring results based off of Saturday’s semifinals and time trials. In this way, the Women’s Double, Women’s Pair, and Men’s Novice Lightweight 4 were awarded second place medals, with the Men’s Pair receiving fourth.
Racing resumed with the Dad Vail Champion Men’s Varsity 4, who scored a respectable second behind Sonoma State Rowing Club, with a time of 7:26.190 to Sonoma’s 7:20.970. This group of sophomores won the Dad Vail two weekends ago and will also have the chance to race at the Henley Royal Regatta in late June. The Women’s Varsity 4 would win their respective grand final by nearly 17 seconds over the University of Chicago, finishing with a time of 7:12.200. This group broke out of the women’s JV eight due to lack of entries and will also travel to England later in the summer.
The big boats finally hit the water with the Women’s Novice 8, who won with a time of 5:15.517 over second place Colorado, who had a time of 5:24.591 over the shortened course. The win concluded a fantastic spring for the novice women as they placed first at SIRA, fourth at the Dad Vail, and first at ACRA. The group looks to add to a deep squad returning next fall for the Lakers.
The Women’s Varsity 8 was narrowly edged out of victory by Purdue University, finishing with a time of 4:21.590 to Purdue’s 4:20.000. Unfortunately, the showdown between the clear top two club teams in the country was shortened to 1500m when outside crews continually broke away from the starting blocks. Coach Bancheri said, “It is a shame they raced a national championship over 1500m. We train all year for a 2000m race, we even changed the gearing just for that reason. Hats off to both crews for that race, but the officials should not have raced a 1500m for the national championship in a varsity eight event.”
The Men’s Varsity 8 rowed what Head Coach John Bancheri deemed their best race of the season, yet finished sixth in their final, due once again to racing in the unprotected Lane 7. Fighting the crosswind, the Lakers managed to pull into third early and held that ground into the 1000m mark when they hit a wall under the bridge. Stroke Jeff Slater commented, “We were moving and were in control of third, then just hit a wall. I don’t know what happened, but we got out of the bridge and were in last. We went after it early and tried to hold on.” The Lakers rowed to a 6:38.6, off of UM in 6:27.8, Bucknell at 6:29.5, and WSU at 6:34.5.
The Men’s Novice 8 would finish the day for the Lakers, coming in second in the petite final for their event behind Bucknell University.
Despite the adverse conditions, the Lakers were still successful enough across the board to defend their Overall Team Points Championship, a title they have defended since the first ACRA, alongside the ACRA Women’s Team Points Championship. Though the season is now over for many of the Lakers, many will also be heading on to the Royal Henley and Henley Women’s Regattas in late June and early July. These rowers have a brief respite from sanctioned practice for this week, before practice once again resumes with a 2000-meter erg test on Monday the 31st.