Mateo Vasquez ’21
After a long and interrupted week in code yellow, athletic teams finally received the long awaited chance to compete against other teams. This past weekend, the men’s and women’s crew teams had their first spring races in almost two years. It was quite an amazing race weekend with a tail wind on the course in Wooster, Massachusetts, a lot of the crews were just flying down in the wind. The course, which served as a head racing location during the fall season, usually has a strong headwind during the fall races. However, the course is reversed during the spring season which allows for the rowers to now benefit from a tailwind allowing the boat to be slightly more set in the wind and conditions. Not to mention the increase in speed from getting pushed along by the wind makes an extreme difference in the race results. Throughout this weekend, the men’s team had the opportunity to race twice. Their first race on Saturday was the most difficult as they were facing off against Holy Cross and Brown University. Brown is ranked as a top five team in the nation and has sent recent crews to Henley Royal Regatta in the past few years. The varsity event was the race to watch that day as they took to the course and the rain just began to come down at the start of the race.
It was almost ideal racing conditions, light rain to keep the water flat, and then a slight tail wind to accelerate the crew down the course. Positioned in lane one, Trinity had the best lane on the lake as it was protected from any chance of a cross wind that might disrupt the flow of the crew on its way down the course. Due to COVID procedures and the irregularity of the racing season with COVID, a few changes were noticeable on the course. First, there were no buoys to keep coxswains in their lane and under an unskilled coxswain, another boat could get too close and wash out the lower crew. Secondly, quick starts. Quick starts can sometimes make or break a crew from the start one bad stroke off the starting sequence and your boat is trying to fight to gain back the distance from the mistake.
On the other side of things, the coxswain does not have anyone holding their boat in place and often another crew can get the jump on the start from not being even, or as a coxswain, they do not have as much time to adjust their point. Despite the irregularities, Trinity showed up strong from the start. From the beginning, the crew was flying out in front ahead of the other competition and holding them in their place. The first varsity was definitely a sight to watch within the first few minutes of the race. People from the side could witness and listen to the chaos of the race course.
Brown came flying out at an incredibly high speed and sought to bury the other crews early on in the race, then Trinity was right behind by five seconds trailing Brown as Holy Cross was right on Trinity’s stern deck. At the 1,200 meter mark, Trinity attempted to move up on Brown, and although they narrowed the gap there was still a decent amount of space that they would not recover the rest of the race. However, that move at the 1,200 meter mark allowed for them to gain open water on Holy Cross and edge away from the crew giving them comfortable placing as they approached the finish line.
At the end of the race, Brown broke a six minute 2k and ended with a final time of 5:50, and Trinity finished at 5:58. This is an amazing mark of progression for the program as they were able to hang with a top five program as they made their way down the course and demonstrated to others that they can get the job done. While they may have lost their betting shirts to Brown on Saturday, there is a lot of room for improvement and this performance demonstrates that the programs have developed into a high level team that can take on higher end programs that the Bantams would not usually face in their conference.
On Sunday, they returned to the course to take on the home team, WPI, along with the Trinity College Women’s Team. Sunday’s race went quite differently from Saturday’s race. For one thing the style of racing on Sunday was different as it was straight duel racing (two boats lined up alongside one another). This is often the classic and original 2k style of racing and places a lot of pressure with the crew to either move away quickly off thestart from your competition or risk fighting for every inch down the course. Both the first and second varsity came out hot out of the start and settled into a solid rhythm down the course, and very early on, stroke by stroke, began to walk on the WPI crew. By the time both crews reached the 1,000 meter mark (the halfway mark in the course) the WPI crews were long gone and they had a considerable amount of open water allowing for both boats to secure the win and get betting shirts from WPI.
There is a lot to consider from this race as WPI is a long time rowing rival of Trinity and the way both crews conducted themselves on the water led to an amazing victory and demonstrates the program has made considerable improvements and development since their last time racing two years ago. However, by far the best rowing race of the day to watch was the women’s first varsity boat. From the beginning, both crews came out strong and held an almost even line going down the course with neither crew in the lead. It was pure stroke by stroke as one moment Trinity’s bow ball would slip ahead of the other crews and then WPI would respond and even it right back out.
As the crews neared the end of the race, it was looking like a very close race and right as there was 350 meters left in the race, WPI made their move. Slowly increasing their rate and pressure per stroke and began to walk away from the Trinity crew. WPI just secured the victory over Trinity in the last half of the course after a very intense stroke per stroke race that was very even down the entire course. It truly was a great experience to witness and see some great rowing. Both teams returned to Hartford after an intense racing weekend to hopefully beat Wesleyan this upcoming Saturday.