UW women’s crew finishes strong to beat Virginia’s varsity eight while Husky men’s crew falls to New Zealand in the 29th annual Windermere Cup at Montlake Cut.
Final score from the 29th annual Windermere Cup Saturday on Montlake Cut: One win, one loss and two upbeat coaches.
On a beautiful, sunny, periodically breezy day in the low 60s, the New Zealand men’s national team, winner of the past two under-23 World Championships, surprised no one by defeating the Washington varsity eight in the marquee event of the 21-race regatta, winning in 5 minutes 43.4 seconds, seven seats ahead of the Huskies (5:45.8).
Meanwhile, UW’s women’s varsity eight battled back from a boat-length deficit to overcome Virginia in the top women’s race by eight seats, 6:29.6 to 6:32.9.
One week after the Washington men, the four-time Intercollegiate Rowing Association national champion, lost their first collegiate race in five years to archrival California, coach Michael Callahan was pleased by the resolve his V8 crew showed against a seasoned international competitor that has Olympic aspirations.
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“If there were moral victories, I guess this is one of them,” Callahan said with a smile. “Even at the boat meeting last night, everyone was like, ‘We know how good they are, but it’s about how we’re rowing.’ That was the theme of the whole week. Everyone feels really strong about the effort today.”
As Cal did a week ago, New Zealand — rowing a brand-new boat borrowed from UW and using borrowed oars painted black by UW and adorned with New Zealand’s silver fern symbol — took command of the 2,000-meter race in the second 500, opening a boat-length lead by midrace. The Huskies slightly cut into the deficit by race’s end.
In the women’s race, pairing the varsity eights of third-ranked Virginia and No. 4 UW, Virginia led by a length at midrace but could not withstand a fast, determined finish by Washington, which won its eighth straight Windermere Cup.
“Our team made big, big changes this week and we just absolutely nailed the changes during our race,” said Sarah Dougherty, a junior from Kentlake who rows in the sixth seat of UW’s V8.
“We remained calm the first 1K; although Virginia was up on us, we hit our 1K move really well,” said Dougherty, who turns 21 on Sunday. “We nailed our last 1K.
“Marlow (Mizer), our coxswain, made a call for us to get together and unite and finish our race, and that’s what we did. It was definitely our best race of the season so far.”
Bella Chilczuk, a sophomore from Kentridge who rows in the second seat, said the varsity boat was eager for a good outing after losing last week five seconds to No. 2 Cal, regarded (along with two-time NCAA champion Ohio State) as one of the nation’s top-two varsity boats.
“It was just a change in morale,” Chilczuk said. “We came out there wanting to fight. We wanted that third ranking.”
Women’s coach Bob Ernst was happy with his crew’s grit. “Virginia has got a lot of pride and tradition, just like we do,” he said. “To row them down and beat them by a boat length, that’s good.”
Virginia brought only its varsity eight to Seattle but, like UW, has a second varsity and varsity four that are unbeaten this season. It is a school’s combined three-boat performance that determines the women’s championship. Virginia won NCAA titles in 2012 and 2010.