Despite dangerous weather and tough competition, the Massachusetts rowing team was able to put up a strong second-place finish in the Yankee Cup in Rhode Island on Saturday.
The Minutewomen racked up four second-place finishes in the First Varsity Eight, Second Varsity Eight, Varsity Four, and Novice Eight events, collecting a total of 23 points for the day. They finished just short of rival Rhode Island, which won three out of the four events and collected 27 points to take the Yankee Cup for the second year in a row.
UMass coach Jim Dietz, however, could not be happier with the results.
“Overall, we performed very well on the day,” Dietz said. “We saw very strong rowing, especially from the freshmen boat. I would have to say we left Rhode Island feeling pretty good.”
Dietz further said that the strongest quality that he saw on the water was a “quintessential team dynamic” necessary for a crew to do well over the course of the season. Based on the skill level of each rower, Dietz expects the most work that will have to be done is merely shuffling the lineups to match strengths with sizes. He expects that the crew will reach their maximum effort in about three weeks.
Two of their four second-place finishes held only two seconds of difference between the first-place finishers. Of these two, the second-place finish against URI was determined by only 0.6 seconds.
When asked about the Rams’ performance and whether or not they will be a big factor as the season progresses, Dietz was not too intimidated.
“They were going as fast as they’re going to go all season,” Dietz said. However, he still feels that they are a crew to be taken seriously.
A significant factor in Saturday’s events was the weather. Huge levels of flooding kept the team out of the water for four days before the regatta impacted the rowing lanes during the races. The ominous skies and waters left many of the coaches wondering whether or not the Yankee Cup would even take place at all, but the weather did clear up enough for some races to take place. The Novice Four, Second Varsity Four and Quad races, however, all had to be scratched due to safety concerns.
Apart from the hazardous conditions that the recent bad weather brought, the cool temperature of the water and the crosswinds blowing opposite of the current had significantly impacted the performance of the boats. Overall, the races that on average take six and a half minutes in good weather, took as many as eight and nine minutes to complete.
Looking back on the weekend, the crew certainly sees more positives than negatives coming from the races. The Minutewomen proved themselves to be strong competitors and focused. If anything, this past weekend will give them extra motivation for their upcoming regatta in Worcester this weekend.
A smiling Dietz added “remember, URI beat us in the Yankee Cup last year, and look how that season turned out.”
David Martin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.