REDWOOD SHORES, Calif. - The defending national champion Stanford women's rowing team ended its weekend at the Pac-10 Challenge on a successful note Sunday, as the I Eight finished an undefeated pair of days to highlight the performance.
"This was a solid first showing for us," said Stanford women's head coach Yasmin Farooq. "It's always a little shocking to break into the first races of the season, and the experience we got from the weekend was extremely positive and valuable. Cal, Iowa, Oregon State, Washington, and Wisconsin brought excellent racing to the Shores in all three NCAA boat classes and the novice eight, and I'm really glad that everyone found the regatta to be productive. Three races against different opponents is enlightening, and I think we all come away from the weekend having learned a lot."
Saturday morning, the I, II and novice eights opened action against Washington, with the varsity four taking on California. The I Eight was the only boat in this group to claim victory, as it opened the regatta with an open-water win over the Huskies. Washington had the jump out of the blocks but Stanford overtook them in the middle 1,000 and won the race by 13.7 seconds.
The II Eights were tightly overlapped for 500 meters before Washington broke out into open water by the 1,000-meter mark. Stanford battled back and trailed by two-thirds of a boat length before the Huskies broke away again to win by just over a boat length.
The rivalry with California in the varsity four event remains one of the hottest in the country. Both boats were level from the start for a blistering first 500 meters. Then Cal attacked, taking a two-second lead by the 1,500-meter mark. Stanford sprinted back, but the Bears earned the victory with a 1.9-second win.
In novice eight action, the Pac-10 champion Husky eight led from the start and cruised to the win.
In the afternoon action against Iowa, Stanford's I and II Eights and the Four captured victories while the novice eight dropped its race.
The three victorious Stanford boats led the Hawkeyes from the start in all three NCAA events. Iowa's Novice Eight overtook the Cardinal novices just after the 500-meter mark and went on to win by 10 seconds.
Sunday morning, the Cardinal delivered dominating performances against Oregon State in the I Eight, II Eight and varsity four, leading from the start and winning by open water in all three NCAA events.
In one of the most exciting races of the day, the Stanford Novice Eight exploded off the line to earn a six-seat lead by the halfway mark. But Oregon State charged back in the third 500, and the boats were level as they entered the final quarter of the race. Oregon State continued their press and had a half boat length lead with only 250 meters to go. Both boats were in a dead sprint for the line when one of the Oregon State rowers caught a crab with only 10 strokes to go in the race. Stanford pushed ahead to win by 1.6 seconds.
Contributing to the Stanford racing effort this weekend were:
Stanford will next compete at the Lake Natoma Invitational in Gold River on April 17-18 against California, Louisville, Minnesota, Sacramento State, Tennessee, Texas, Washington State and Wisconsin.