In a matchup of the nation’s two top-ranked teams in both men’s and women’s rowing, California claimed victories in both varsity eight races Saturday in the annual Washington-California dual.

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It was a tough day for the home teams on Montlake Cut.

In a matchup of the nation’s two top-ranked teams in both men’s and women’s rowing, California claimed victories in both varsity eight races Saturday in the annual Washington-California dual.

Coping with the strongest morning winds of the two-hour, eight-race event, the No. 1-ranked Cal men’s V8 defeated No. 2 UW by nearly two seconds (6:10.674 to 6:12.594), roughly five seats.

In slightly less blustery conditions, Cal’s No. 2-ranked women’s V8 outstroked top-ranked UW by nearly eight seconds (6:30.708 to 6:38.336), winning by open water.

“California is pushing us,” UW men’s coach Michael Callahan said, recalling that Cal ended UW’s unprecedented streak of five straight national titles last June by winning the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships. “I told guys in the middle of the winter, California is your biggest friend. They’re making you better.”

Facing a 15 mph cross-headwind and near whitecap conditions at the start, Cal’s men got off to a fast start that UW could not overcome.

“They’re a very explosive crew, especially off the front,” Callahan said. “They row for the lead. They got it. Sometimes when you have hard conditions, you actually find out who the best crew really is, because they’re able to handle it.

“We kept fighting back multiple times, but they were able to cover those counter moves and had the best of it until the end,” he said. “To the bridge (about 500 meters to go), I was thinking if we had a good kick at the end we could have gotten it.”

In the women’s V8 race, UW led by 1.2 seconds after 500 meters, but Cal gradually pulled away. “We could hear all the attacks from the launches, so the best thing I can liken it to is a brawl,” said first-year coach Yasmin Farooq. “The wind really started to gust in the third quarter of the race, and I thought Cal handled the wind better than we did.”

Disappointing?

“I felt coming into this race that it could go either way,” she said. “To be able to have a race like this at this point in the season (three weeks before the Pac-12 Championships) is a gift. That kind of back-and-forth fighting in the middle of the race is invaluable experience. I’m pretty excited about the front part of the race, and given the training we’ve been doing, I feel good about where we have to go.”

Callahan likewise believes his team is on a good path.

“We didn’t get blown out,” he said. “We’re just going to work tactically on how to get better. I know how hard everyone has been working. It feels like early on in my career when I first got here, when we were growing the team to a national-championship-caliber team. I have the same feeling with this crew. We’re just not quite there yet. We need to take the next couple of steps, and we have guys capable of doing it.”

Notes

• This was the 106th UW-Cal men’s dual, first raced in 1903. UW holds a 73-32-1 series lead; Cal has won the last three. Women’s racing was added in 1977, and UW leads that series 23-18. Cal, though, has won the last four and, since 2004, 13 of the last 14.

UW won both second varsity races and the women’s varsity four race, split the third varsity races (men winning), and dropped the men’s freshman eight race.

• Callahan was asked if the Cal men are catchable. “Everyone’s catchable on any particular day,” he said. “They’re as strong of a crew in collegiate rowing as there has ever been. So that’s the challenge.”