In cool, choppy but rain-free conditions, the top-ranked Huskies varsity eight defeated Brown, No. 2 in U.S. Rowing's collegiate poll, by a boat length on a wake-shortened, 1,750-meter course.

In two months, the Washington men’s rowing team will aim for the same result it produced Saturday morning on Montlake Cut: a clear victory over top competition.

In cool, choppy but rain-free conditions, the top-ranked Huskies varsity eight defeated Brown, No. 2 in U.S. Rowing’s collegiate poll, by a boat length on a wake-shortened, 1,750-meter course.

Washington, the two-time defending Intercollegiate Rowing Association champion, benefited from a strong start and powered to the win in 5 minutes, 12.68 seconds. Brown, second to UW at last year’s IRAs, finished in 5:15.97.

Washington coach Michael Callahan coordinated with Brown coach Paul Cooke and shortened the V8 race by 250 meters after rough water adversely affected the opening freshman race.

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“Maybe 10 minutes before the first race the fetch in the water came off Lake Washington and put a roller in at the starting lines,” Callahan said. “The Brown boat got caught in that side trough, and no one feels very good about that. So we shortened the races to get out of that wake.”

Cooke, who brought his crew to Seattle to race last April, agreed with Callahan’s call and conceded that UW deserves to be No. 1.

“Had we raced 2,000 meters, the outcome would have been similar,” Cooke said. “If anything, (the shortened course) may have allowed us to stay in the race a little bit more.”

Can Brown, or anyone, catch UW as it rows for a fifth national title in seven years?

“Their program is basically the standard everyone is measuring themselves against,” said Cooke, whose crew last week beat Yale and Boston University. “This being April and the IRAs being June 2, anything can happen. But they’re a formidable opponent, for sure.”

Callahan was pleased with UW’s fast start.

“It was nice to see them being aggressive in really hard conditions,” he said.

With the top half of UW’s roster heading to Oregon State next week, complacency will not be a factor, Callahan said.

“I don’t think any guy in our boat is thinking that they don’t have any more work to do or don’t need to find some more speed,” he said. “Everyone in the country is going to be improving.”

Senior captain Alex Bunkers, rowing in the seventh seat, concurs.

“At a banquet last week we talked about no limits — you can never win by enough,” he said. “You can never be satisfied with what you’ve got until you win the national championship at the end.

“It’s always reassuring when we’re beating a top team in the nation, but I think we can develop a lot of speed throughout the start, the base and the sprint moves. We’re just getting started.”