Camden, NJ – The Brown men's crew turned in an impressive first day at the 2010 IRA National Championship Regatta on Friday, as all five boats advanced to tomorrow's semifinals. The Second Varsity 8 became the first boat to earn a spot, turning in the fastest time in the event while winning its heat, and was joined by the Open 4 in the morning. The Varsity 8, Freshman 8, and Varsity 4 then followed, as each won its rep in the afternoon to move on as well.
The Varsity 8 led off Thursday's action, racing in a very tough heat. Cal jumped off the line early, and quickly pulled away from the field, leaving four crews battling for the final two qualifying spots. Yale and Cornell were able to pull away in the third 500 though, leaving Brown fourth in 5:41.6. The Golden Bears held on to beat Yale by several seats, finishing in 5:31.9.
Brown bounced back strong in the afternoon repechage though, flying out of the start to quickly establish a lead. Princeton hung with the Bears in the early going, but Brown took advantage of the strong tailwind to bump the rating, and won by nearly a boat length, crossing the line in 5:37.5. Princeton and Syracuse nabbed the other two semifinal spots, finishing in second and third respectively. The results set up an unusual semifinal on Friday morning, as all six boats are Ivy League crews. The Bears will be squaring off against Princeton, Harvard, Cornell, Yale, and Dartmouth, in a race that should come down to the final sprint.
“The varsity didn't row well this morning, but they bounced back with a nice performance in the afternoon to get into the semis,” said head coach Paul Cooke. “The racing is very competitive across the board, and there are a lot of good teams here in every event.”
The second varsity had a very strong morning race, earning the top seed in tomorrow's racing by virtue of having the fastest overall time in the heats. After Cornell took the early lead off the start, Brown was able to pull even by the 500 mark, and the boats traded the lead through the halfway point. In the second half though, Brown's steady power gave the Bears the edge, as Brown moved steadily away from the field over the final 750, eventually winning by a length in 5:37.3. Cornell continued its strong day by finishing second in 5:41.1, while Syracuse rounded out the top three in 5:46.0.
In the freshman eight, the Bears fell behind off the start, and initially looked to be struggling. However, Brown was able to get back on track at the 500 mark, and quickly took off after the leaders, passing a pair of crews en route. Though the Bears were unable to crack the top two to earn an automatic bid, Bruno took third in 5:53.9 to nab a middle lane for the afternoon racing. There, Brown rowed one of its best overall races of the season, mounting an impressive comeback against Navy after falling behind early, coming back to edge the Midshipmen in 5:42.7.
The open four followed a similar pattern, falling into fourth early in the race, just outside of the necessary top-three spot. However, the Bears used a solid second half to come back on Princeton, and passed the Tigers to earn the automatic spot into the Friday semis.
Wrapping up the day was the varsity four, which placed fourth in the morning heats, and was sent to the reps. There, Brown turned in a terrific row, jumping out to an early lead, and continuing to extend it throughout the race, eventually winning by open water over the field.
The Bears will be back in action on Friday, beginning at 9:30 a.m. with the semifinals of the Open 4, and continuing through the Varsity 8 semi at 12:30 p.m. All boats will be looking for top-three finishes, which would advance them to the Grand Finals and allow the opportunity to win a national championship.