Oarswomen Second at Redwood

Sometimes, you just don't want history to repeat itself, but it does anyway.

Such was the case last weekend when the Radcliffe Heavyweight Varsity Eight raced at the Redwood Shores Invitational Regatta in Belmont, California and came in second place (again) behind the University of Washington (again), dropping its contest with the Huskies by three seconds (again) in the first day of competition (you guessed it, again).

The luck of the draw was not with the Black and White on Saturday, as it was randomly picked to race the defending national champion Huskies in the first heat.

"The Washington race was interesting because they raced a different race than we expected," bow-seat Allison Pugh said. "They didn't settle until two minutes into the race and J.T. [stroke and national team rower Juliet Thompson] could tell they weren't settling because the national team rows that way."

Washington gained its lead in the first 500 meters of the race and maintained its half-length margin over Radcliffe (7:08.82) to finish with a 7:05.52 time.

"This race made us readjust our whole strategy for the next race," four-seat Vicky Keane said.

The Black and White then raced California-Berkeley and rowed past the Golden Bears (7:09.94) by a three-second margin of its own in 7:06.29.

"Cal raced really high like Dartmouth [at a 37 to 38 stroke rating]," five-seat Betsy McCagg said. "We learned we had to take our rating up higher to make our sprint much faster."

On Sunday the heavies cruised by UCLA by a comfortable eight-second margin in 7:11.77, having no problem handing the Bruins (7:19.41) their second loss of the tourney.

"We learned so much in the process of those three races," seven-seat Karen Weltchek said. "We haven't done a lot of speedwork, and we had to change our race plan after each race, altering our cadence (from 33 strokes per minute to 34 1/2) to keep up with the higher rates of the California crews."

Yale and Brown tied for second with Radcliffe in the tourney. The Elis and Bruins also fell by close margins this weekend to the regatta-winning Huskies.

The Black and White face Yale on the Eli's home waters Sunday, in what should be its toughest Ivy League race this season.

"This weekend will be a good indication of what we'll have to do to be really competitive at the Eastern Sprints [May 8]," Radcliffe head coach Liz O'Leary said. "We're working our way towards eating away those couple of seconds."

Meanwhile, back on the Charles last Saturday, the Junior Varsity and Varsity Lightweight crews defeated Dartmouth, MIT, Syracuse and the Boston Rowing Club to make the day a complete victory sweep for the Black and White.

The lightweight four's five and 21-second wins over the Boston Rowing Club crews were the most surprising and exciting of the day though, since the Boston Rowing Club is the off-season national rowing team.

"I don't think any of us have ever been so happy, not even when we won in San Diego," stroke Jillian Buriak said. "Katia [coxswain Rorer] was saying that we should just try to have a good race for ourselves, but when we were up on them after the first ten strokes, there was no way we were going to let go."

The lights race the University of Pennsylvania in New Haven this weekend in their last Ivy League race before the Sprints.