Humboldt Bay Rowing Association
With the most aggressive racing schedule the Juniors have every had they are at it again for the fourth weekend of racing in a row. This last weekend it was on the road again to Redwood Shores in Redwood City for the two day Shamrock Invite hosted by the Redwood Scullers, formerly known as Stanford Rowing Club.
This regatta was a little different from the majority of other races. The course provides only enough room for two lanes down the entire length making for an up-close view for a tight dual race. Its all or nothing as the two boats race side by side through a tight bridge then to the finish line in what feels like a game of chicken as is only about 25 meters of space after the finish line for the boats to check down and stop before hitting the rocky bank. Thats about five meters more then the length of an eight. Most races are run with two boats but a few are run with three meaning that one boat needs to drop back before the bridge because three just will not fit. In those races it is truly a race to the bridge. It is a little daunting but the boats generally make it unscathed. This is also one of the reasons this is a varsity race only. The competition is also very, very fast with some of the top boats in the nation coming out to play.
This year HBRA entered a Men's Single, Men's Quad, Men's Lightweight Double, and Men's Heavyweight Double. The Single and the Quad raced on Saturday and the two doubles raced on Sunday. The Quad and the Doubles raced twice each day with each race against a different competitor. Both days had their share of wind an rain. Saturday there was a concern of high winds over 25 miles per hour, which would make racing impossible. That never happened but strong gusts did affect the boats after the bridge. Sunday was heavy downpour all day long. To most this entire weekend might sound like a bad idea, but for the rowers this is just another reason why rowing is a sport and everyone else plays games.
Results can be found here. The play by play is below. Unfortunately there were not a lot of pictures this weekend. It was all business and not much time to pull out the camera.
This was a great race for Isaac in the single. He held even with Los Gatos for the first 1k, then made a big push in front of the bridge and expanded his lead to about two boat lengths of open water and held to the end. Very nicely executed race plan for a boat that never gets practice. Another good win for the Lil Pumpkin.
In the quest for speed the team is trying any new tactic they can... and it does not always workout. The first race was up against Redwood Scullers C boat who beat us just at the finish line in our last race against them. This time the team opted to try to go out a little slower at the start in the hopes of conserving a bit of energy for the middle of the race. RC went out just a little faster and held their lead through the entire length. The boy were never able to make up the difference despite several moves in the middle of the race. Each move was matched by RS. Good attempt at mixing things up but lesson learned.
The second race for the quad was against the faster RC-A and moral was a bit discouraged, but the team was prepared to go at it as hard as they could and race against the clock rather then the boat. As expected RC-A went out very fast but this time so did HBRA, hitting and holding 41 strokes per minute. They settled and RC-A moved away but the team kept making moves and improving on their time from the morning race. In the end spirits were back up and the rowers feel confident in their race plan ahead of next weeks challenge at the Pacific Invite.
Men's Lightweight Double
For the lightweights this weekend was all about experimenting with the rigging of the boat and the race strategy. The rigging played the bigger role and the first race proved that it was just not right. The boys felt sluggish and out of balance. They came in third (this one was a three boat race) but the important part was that it just did not feel good despite pulling their hearts out.
The second race was against the Redwood A boat which they knew was fast so the main goal was to just have a much better race then the first. The rigging of the boat was changed so that it was lighter in feel and they met their goal. This race was much, much better then the first. So much better that their time down the course beat the heavyweights first race time. They did take second but the boys came off very happy with their row and ready to try again next week. The important thing to remember with these boys is that they are still very young and have two years left after this one. They will no doubt be out in front before they are done with rowing as juniors. It was a very good weekend for them to learn, and that is what they did.
Men's Heavyweight Double
The heavyweights have dialed down their rigging adjustments but race strategy was their concern this weekend. Their first race was against the Redwood Scullers C boat. The boys took off with a pretty bad start at a low rate but were able to take a lead at the start anyway. Once regaining their rhythm they made a couple of longer moves that proved very effective and allowed them to continually push away from their competition finishing four boat lengths ahead. They were happy with the results but wanted to change a couple of things in their race strategy for the second race, and maybe improve their start which is normally pretty good.
The next race was the big one against two very fast competitors, Redwood B and Seattle A. Seattle A is likely to be at Nationals this year and is definitely a contender for the win there. Redwood B was known to be fast as well and the line up had changed to include one of the teams fastest rowers in that boat. The goal of the boys was to hang as long as they could. They went out at a blistering high rate and were able to hold a slight lead on Redwood B during the starting sprint. As they settled their rate Redwood was able to slowly take a lead on HBRA and eventually get to one boat-length ahead before the bridge. Seattle was about a boat length ahead of Redwood. After the race Isaac exclaimed that the first 1000 meters of the race was "frightening." They did not fully expect to be that close to Redwood B since those rowers had been so fast all weekend and now they were right with them. HBRA would make a move, then Redwood would respond and make up the distance lost. That continued all the way down the course. By the last 500 meters Redwood had moved to about two boat-lengths ahead but the boys held on for the sprint and did not loose any more ground. Seattle finished about two boat-lengths ahead of Redwood. It was a great effort by HBRA and the boys were very happy with their race. The start was much better and they felt like their race strategy is pretty dialed down to where they want it now. The goal for the rest of the season is to catch that redwood B boat and maybe have a shot at taking this boat to Nationals.
Humboldt Bay Rowing Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the sport of rowing for community members of all ages and abilities. HBRA is located in the Adorni Center and the HSU Boathouse on the Eureka Waterfront. Please call 707.677.3214 for further information.