This Saturday signified the opening of the Spring racing season for Virginia Men's Rowing. As a small background on the sport, collegiate rowing is a year round effort with the Fall consisting of longer Head Races, usually 5k meters or longer, and the Spring, the "Championship Season", being strictly 2000m Sprint Races. Sprint regattas typically include heats, semis, and finals and often see 6 crews racing head to head. The marquee races at all Regattas (at the University level) are the 8+, an eight man racing shell.
After 3 months off the water, training indoors following the Fall racing season, the Virginia Men traveled to Philadelphia to race strong competition at the Murphy Cup. The morning heats saw all Virginia Eights (1st Varsity 8+, 2nd Varsity 8+, and Freshman 8+) place first while posting the fastest times of the morning in their respective divisions and moving on to the Grand Final races that afternoon.
That afternoon, the Virginia Freshman 8+ took the first Gold of the day with a victory in the Novice 8+ race. The Freshman started down on the competition that included Drexel, La Salle and Marist through the first 1000m of the race only to pull up and race through Drexel in the final 500m to win by open water in a time of 6 minutes 50 seconds with Drexel in second by 5 seconds (6:55).
The 2nd Varsity 8+, fueled by a strong showing from the Freshman team, raced neck and neck with a strong Temple crew for the first 1000 meters of the race. Making a strong move in the 2nd 1000m, the Virginia Men were able to pull ahead of the field that included Temple and maintained their lead to win with a time of 6 minutes and 6 seconds, two seconds ahead of Temple (6:08).
The final race of the day, the 1st Varsity Grand Final, saw the Virginia Men poised for the sweep. A field that included Temple, Jacksonville, Drexel, Delaware, Marist, and La Salle, promised to make for an exciting and challenging race. Teams like Jacksonville, that have the luxury of training on the water year round thanks to warm Florida weather, always show early sprinting speed, a challenge to teams further north that have only trained on the water for a few weeks.. This did not phase the Virginia Men as they surged to an early lead and never looked back, taking the gold with a time of 5:51, five seconds over Temple (5:56) and seven over Jacksonville (5:58).
Two Virginia 4+ raced, the 1st Varsity 4+ and the Freshman 4+ coming in 2nd and 3rd in their respective finals.
While it is early in the season, these results show very promising speed for racing in the Championship regattas later in the Spring. Next week the Virginia Men will make the long trek to Grand Rapids, Michigan to race at the Lubber's Cup against a notoriously strong field that includes Michigan, Michigan State, Grand Valley, and Brock (Canada).
Full Results from the Murphy Cup can be seen here.
And for more information about the Virginia Men's Rowing Team check out the official site www.virginiarowing.org.