UW women win while Washington’s men finish a disappointing third in Windermere Cup
By John Sleeper
SEATTLE — Forget all the talk about home-course advantage, jet lag and residual effects of partying.
The Croatian Olympic crew won the 2001 Men’s Windermere Cup on the Montlake Cut Saturday so easily that it may have been wise to make a post-race check of its shell for a hidden propeller.
That the Croatians won the race in 5 minutes, 31.75 seconds and snapped the University of Washington’s varsity eight’s 10-year stranglehold on the event wasn’t the surprise. Six of the crew’s eight oarsmen powered the national shell to a bronze medal in the 2000 Olympic Games.
The shocker was Washington’s anemic showing. Not only did the Huskies finish nearly nine seconds behind the Croatians, they also got a prolonged look at the stern of shell from the University of Victoria, which outdistanced Washington by nearly four seconds.
"This was not a good day for Washington rowing," UW men’s coach Bob Ernst said.
It was, however, a good day for the UW women’s varsity eight, which pulled away mightily from the field in the last 500 of the 2000-meter race, finishing in 6:17.12. Second was the Romanian national crew, nearly five seconds back, followed by Victoria.
The UW women’s varsity eight rowed its best race of the season, jumping to a quick start, letting the Romanians slice into the advantage and closing the show with a killing sprint in the last 500 meters.
"We had blinders on in the last 500 meters," coxswain Mary Whipple said.
The Huskies continued to put a surprise defeat to USC a month ago behind them by using it as motivation for the rest of the season. Washington won its 10th of the last 11 Windermere Cups.
"It was a disappointment that we didn’t row as well as we would have liked to and they were flat-out better than us that day," UW women’s coach Jan Harville said. "Here, we were elated to win, but also we’re elated because we’ve worked on the last half of the race."
Much was made in the men’s race that the Huskies could take advantage of the Croatians’ trek halfway around the world to Seattle, the fact that Saturday marked the crew’s first race of the year and four days’ and nights’ worth of touring and occasional parties.
But the Croatians brought a world-class crew, one of the best to ever race at Windermere and one impervious to a few walks around Seattle and a few Ballard Bitters.
"It wasn’t as smooth as we can really row," said Igor Boraska, who manned the shell’s seventh seat. "In general, we are satisfied. There was lots to do here and we were a little tired."
Washington’s showing in the men’s race was a troublesome continuation of second-tier efforts by the Huskies against top crews. Washington has lost twice to defending national champion California by similar nine-second margins.
Not exactly circumstances that fills a crew with confidence going into next weekend’s Pacific-10 Conference championships and the Intercollegiate Rowing Association championships May 31 to June 2.
"We did not have an effective row today," Ernst said. "These guys are going to have to do a lot better than that or they’re not going to have much to be proud of in the last couple races this year."
In other races, the Washington women’s junior-varsity eight rowed to victory in the women’s Cascade Cup in 6:29.59, beating second-place Washington State by more than four seconds. The Huskies also won the men’s Cascade Cup in 5:42.46. Oregon State was second, more than nine seconds back.
The UW men and women have owned the Cascade Cup, winning each year since the race’s inception in 1992.
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