The 2013 Dad Vail is in the books! William and Mary claimed the program’s 4th medal at this prestigious event.
The Novice Women entered an eight, looking to build off of their SIRAs success in the WN4+. Matched up against 5 other crews in their heat, they finished 4th, failing to qualify by one spot. However, the boats they lost to were fully-funded varsity programs (La Salle, Temple, and Dayton).
The novice men went into Vails looking at one of their biggest challenges of the year. As a boat of lightweights that had to register in the open category because of some last-minute roster shuffling, they were rowing in the novice open 8+ against powerhouse crews from the biggest schools in collegiate club rowing. They were given an excellent lane assignment for their first heat- lane four- which was helpful given the quality of competition they were matched up against. Local powerhouse and eventual winner of the event Drexel was in the lane next to the Tribe, with Washington University in St Louis and DePaul rounding out a field made thinner by a last-minute scratch by Rhode Island. With three boats advancing to semis, William and Mary finished third in their heat with a 6:51.4, a mere 8 seconds off a Wash U boat that made grand finals at SIRA’s. A wobbly start was overcome with an excellent first 500 that enabled the Tribe to hang tough with Wash U for the rest of the race and bury DePaul in the first two minutes.
With their third place finish in heats, the novice men earned a spot in the semifinals the next morning. The races were delayed for over an hour by several instances of breakage, multiple restarts, crashes, and launches getting stuck on buoys, and the boys sat in the marshaling area for over an hour as officials insisted on launching crews as if the races were still on time.
When they finally got their crack at the competition, it was fierce. The boys were slotted in lane one, with Minnesota, Virginia, Purdue, Grand Valley, and Rochester Institute of Technology occupying the lanes next to them. William and Mary came off the line much stronger than they did in their initial heat, but the eventual silver medalists from UVA shot off the line and the other crews slowly gained ground on the Tribe and overtook them. The boys finished last in the semi-final, pulling a 6:54.9. While it was hard on the boys to finish last in their semi, they came away from Vails with a lot to be proud of- they made it to the semifinals despite rowing against heavyweights, and were very competitive against boats from much bigger and much stronger programs than ours.
Now the novice men are moving onto training for ACRA, which will be held the weekend of May 25-26 on the Olympic rowing course at Lake Lanier, Georgia. The boys will be racing a novice light 4+ and a varsity 2- at ACRA, and have already thrown themselves into training with 2-a-day practices. The field at ACRA will be quite competitive as well, with new opponents such as Michigan and UC-Santa Barbara joining SIRA’s foes Texas and Murray State. After the boys’ success at SIRA, they are fired up and chasing another medal to close out their season.
On the Varsity Women’s squad, Vails was a positive influence. For the Varstiy Womens 4+, they made it out of their first heat, which was an improvement from last years result. For their semi-final race, they ran into major delays in the schedule of the regatta due to a boat flipping, boats clashing oars, and weather delays. After being out on the water for over an hour and a half, they did not get off to their best start and fought the elements of strong wind and waves the rest of the race. Unfortunately they did not advance.
In the Single, Ashley Koontz, moved out of her first race on Friday posting the third fastest time in her event. Saturday brought with it major schedule changes, delaying her race over 4 hours. However once the regatta finally posted the time for her final, she immediately got mentally set and put together a great race. She fought her way to earning third against two strong rowers from Oklahoma, and earned her self a place on the medals dock! Ashley will seek to defend last year’s ACRA’s medal in the single later this month.
Heading into Dad Vails, the Varsity men decided to switch to rowing two 4+ instead of an 8+ and a 4+. With the added seat pressure for 8 seats amongst 12 rowers, we really stepped up what we were capable of. Right as the trailer was unloaded from our trip to SIRA’s, we hit the water and we hit it hard. After 2 weeks of intense Dad Vails training, the Varisty men had put together two fast 4s. With our heads head high we had our practice the day before competition. The night before the squad look at our heat draws and realized we were going to need great races in both events to make it to semi-finals.
On Friday, the first race of the day the Varsity 4 launched for the first race of the day. With FIT (1st at SIRA) and Rollins (3rd at SIRA) they knew it was going to be a battle to make it so racing on Saturday. They crossed the finish line in 6:46.86 finishing 4th in their heat. Florida Institute of Technology and Rollins claimed the first two spots and would up finishing first and fourth in the event overall. Though the men wouldn’t advance to race again but all felt that it was a noteworthy race overall.
The Varsity Light 4 came to the course feeling confident even with stiff competition from Temple and Delaware in their heat. Right from the start it was going to be a fight between W&M and Delaware for the 2nd place spot to advance to semis. W&M battled hard all 2000 meters but ultimately it was not enough finishing just behind Delaware with a time of 6:59.85. It was a great race but has now been used as fuel as they moved forward looking at ACRA’s this weekend.
. Unfortunately, their time of 6:59 would have been fast enough to qualify in a different heat.
Congratulations are in order for former WMRC member Justin de Benedictis Kessner who currently coaches MIT’s lights. That program had a strong performance in an unusual appearance at Vails, claiming first in the ML4+ and second in the ML8+.
These results highlight the importance of every race at Vails and the extreme depth of talent at this regatta. The men will look to rebound at ACRAs.