Racing with boats lent by the competition generally isnt considered a formula for success. Yet in last Saturdays Mid-America Collegiate Rowing Association Regatta, it proved to be just what crew needed to catapult straight to the finals.
The womens novice boat followed this unusual recipe for greatness for a fourth-place finish in the top-flight race, the only squad among six boats sent to place. In addition to the novice boat, the women sent an additional varsity crew. On the mens ride, Chicago entered two young boats, a lightweight and a novice.
Things got off to an ominous start for the female youngsters. In the first 250 meters of their first race at the regatta, one of their rowers caught a crab, mispaddling in such a manner as to cause all the oars to tangle. Its usually a serious problem, and the members of the four-person womens novice team assumed they were through.
Were thinking its the last race of the season and weve messed it up in the first 30 seconds, second-year Jessica Wright said.
Under the expert guidance of first-year coxswain Liz Chen, the Maroons were able to overcome the 10-second arrest caused by the move. They passed two of their prime rivals before the finish and advanced to the championship round.
The finals, though, were three hours later. With three of the four members rowing in an additional two races during that period, and with the slowest preliminary s`howing of any of the finalists9:03, not exactly anything to write home about, according to Wrightthe race didnt look promising.
Fortunately, overcoming obstacles proved to be the rookie boats forte. The team managed to not only pass rival Ohio University, but also to cut an impressive 35 seconds off their earlier finish, leaving them in fourth place with a respectable time of 8:28. Considering the odds, the outcome was an impressive victory for the team.
Were the dark horsewe had to borrow boats from other teams and carry our own oars with us on the boat, said second-year captain Nora Granville.
With competition that featured powerhouses Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio, Ohio State, Northwestern, and Cleveland State, the organizers of the regatta seemed to be conspiring to make it an especially difficult race for the mens team.
No one made it to finals, though they did have some very good races, second-year club president Emily Tancer said.
Facing many of the same schools, the women fared better overall. Up against some of their toughest competitionNorthwestern and North Parkthe novices overcame their lack of resources en route to finals.
Were a pretty scrappy team because we always have to borrow sites and boats, Granville said. I cant imagine being any scrappier and still being able to row.