Saturday was gender day at Nationals with the longer distances: 500 m and 2 km races! Lots of racing and podium for everybody.
^Photo credit: Ed Nguyen
^Photo credit: Anne Zeng!
^Photo credit: Anne Zeng!
Another tough day at Nationals, though a little shorter than Friday. NDRC Women and Open, along with Iron Dragons Open had their races to finish up the gender divisions.
Highlights from the day’s 500’s:
- NDRC Women have been a little inconsistent in their racing. Sometimes they’re great and really find their pace and rhythm and other times they’re a little messy. The 200 m’s of Friday were a little messy. The 500 m’s, though, were clean and crisp. The heat and semi went well, with us seeded first in each, heading to the final in lane 3. Unfortunately, though we raced hard, we just didn’t get it, placing third once again behind OH Premier Women and 22Dragons.
- NDRC Open, on their part, managed to redeem themselves a little with the 500, placing second to OH Hounds (compared to their 3rd place finish in the 200). While both results were a little disappointing, the races were good.
- Iron Dragons Open placed third in the 500. Or at least they would have had they not gotten a 5 s penalty for not being in the centre of their lane. Oof. Not having been in their boat, I didn’t see what happened, but based on the video from Allan’s GoPro, it looked like the officials called ID out for not being the centre, whereupon Desmond moved back to the centre, but got sucked back to the side due to Hounds’ wash. He moved back to the centre again, but apparently it wasn’t enough and the officials called it. We tried protesting it, but to no avail. Desmond was extremely beat up about it. That penalty had the potential to kill them and in fact when I first heard about it, I automatically assumed it had put them in last place in the final (which would have been 6th place), which would have taken them out of the running for medal contention. However, upon checking the results sheet, I saw that even with the penalty ID was still 4th! There was still hope! But they would have to get at least 3rd in the 2 km. That was going to be tough, particularly with NDRC chasing them.
Always entertaining races, this year’s 2 km’s were especially interesting, enough so that they deserve their own section in this post. A special mention goes to the U24 Open 2 km race, where True Grit, New College, and York faced off. York rammed into True Grit at one point, knocking their drummer off into the water, after which she had to clamber onto the back of the boat and sit on the tail for the remainder of the race, calling from the back.
NDRC traditionally sucks at 2 km’s, but we worked hard on them since TIDBRF and got better. Dare I say it, they’re almost even good! All that practice looks like it’s paying off. First off, NDRC Women got 2nd in their 2 km, behind the Montreal women by 3 s, and ahead of OH Premier Women by 0.03 s. That margin, man. Particularly sweet since at the Toronto Women’s Regatta, OH Premier Women beat us by 5 s. We had a decent start and went hard (something we’ve been struggling to do in recent years). Marcella told me afterward how off the start, she was thinking “this is good, right here, this is hard,” but then I told them it wasn’t good enough. The Montreal women were right behind and already catching up fast. We needed more! So the girls had to find another gear. Throughout the first and second legs, 22D was getting closer and at one point coming up to a turn, their their drummer was yelling at me to get out of their way so they could pass on our left. And I was like NO. The girls decided no way were we getting passed there and pushed. We maintained priority for the turn and never looked back. After the halfway mark, they were no longer close enough to pass us and we were able to focus on passing other boats (including a really nice turn where we cut inside of Galley Girls as they took it wide). Not getting passed, passing other boats, cutting inside turns? That was a fun race and probably our best women’s 2 km in 2 years.
For the open 2 km, NDRC Open got 2nd behind Hounds. Realistically speaking, it was the result we were to expect, but the important part? We didn’t get passed! At 8 s behind first place, the men made significant improvements over last year’s result, where we got 4th, at 19 s behind the Hounds. I’d say that’s not a bad result. I knew that the Hounds passing us would kill us for time, so in the start, I pushed the distance a little, making sure we were as ahead as possible since it was a floating start. Basically I was trying to get as much room between us as I could. On their part, I’m pretty sure Jim wanted the separation as well, because he hung back, possibly to get cleaner water. That was fine by me. My turns were perhaps not the best I could have done, but they were still tight enough that Jim wasn’t able to come up on my inside and pass (I got a compliment from him! Though I don’t think he knows who I am).
One of the biggest highlights of the day was ID Open’s 2 km. At the beginning of the year, we had only planned for one competitive mixed crew, but we had so many stellar male recruits that we didn’t want to let them go, so we formed an open crew. Unfortunately we had several overagers, including a couple of dinosaurs that were too old to even be considered overaged (Colin and Kavya, I’m looking at you), so we couldn’t do U24. Thus the venture into premier. Lucky gave a speech after the 2 km race and said it really well: ID Open has no BUSINESS being in premier. They’re a university team. But somehow, in some way, they belong and can hold up with the best, and that’s beautiful. Emotions were running really high into and after their 2 km, due to the 500 m penalty. The guys knew that they needed to place at least 3rd and beat Arsenal to get 3rd overall (or else Arsenal would beat them in points). Pretty sure that’s probably the hardest 2 km they’ve ever raced. I know, because NDRC was coming up behind them and almost managed to pass on a straightaway (I definitely didn’t go easy on them) but in a move of desperation, they made a move and Desmond edged us out, barely maintaining priority. Frustrating for NDRC, but great for ID. Turns out, it was really lucky for them that they managed to that, because they ended up taking 3rd over Arsenal by 0.65 s. What are these close calls?? The guys were so happy and I was very proud of them. Alex even threw up twice after the race, he was so spent. Desmond did a great job steering that race (likely his best 2 km this season) and I think more than made up for the 500 m. When the team found out they got 3rd, they basically erupted into cheers, with Desmond as the loudest, alternating between screaming and crying. One of my favourite moments of the season.
P.S. I had to hop back and forth between NDRC and ID for the podium ceremony. Didn’t help that they were on opposite ends.