The Lions had opened their fall season October 12 in races on Connecticut's Housatonic River and the Passaic River in New Jersey. Thus, the head-type racing and crowded water of the Charles River was old hat for Columbia.
Coach Nich Lee Parker's boats hit the ground (water) running this weekend, finishing a superb seventh in a 17-boat field at the Lightweight Eights on Sunday, a day after a Lion lightweight eight finished 13th of 47 in the Club Eights.
"We had a real good outing," Parker said of his boat's effort in the Sunday event. "We were good from start to finish." Although they finished seventh, they were just two seconds out of fifth, as four crews came in within four seconds of each other."
Columbia was timed in 15:33.809, two seconds behind Harvard B and half a second behind Cornell, while leading Delaware and Princeton B by scant seconds. Princeton A won the race in 15:03.554, followed by Harvard A, Yale A and MIT A.
The Lions also topped shells from Navy, Dartmouth, Penn, Georgetown and two Canadian eights, from Brock University and McGill University.
It was the best showing by a Columbia lightweight eight at the Head of the Charles in more than a decade, highly impressive since four of the eight rowers were first-years. Coxswain Erica Cunningham was the only senior.
Parker smiled. "They tried to have a good race," he said, "and they did it."
In Saturday racing, Columbia rowed well in gulping down great gobs of margins. The Lions started 29th in the 47-boat field, which was predominately made up of heavyweights, and moved up 16 places to 13th.
Defying a wind-swept Charles River, which Parker described as "bumpy", Columbia finished ahead of crews from George Mason, Bucknell, WPI, the Fat Cat Rowing Club, and A.s.r. Nereus of the Netherlands. The Lions also overcame another handicap -- lack of sleep. They drove up from New York the day of the race.
More experienced, and wide awake, Columbia's lightweights will rejoin their heavyweight counterparts, who did not row in the Head of the Charles, in next Sunday's Princeton Chase.
The lightweights' rowing:
The Head of the Charles Regatta (three-mile head race)
Saturday/Sunday, October 19/20, 2013
Charles River, Boston, Mass.
Columbia, 13th of 47, 15:23.770
Men's Lightweight Eights
Columbia, 7th of 17, 15:33.809
The Weekend's Boatings:
Club Eights (Saturday)
Yih-Jen Ku, cox; Anders Smedsrud, stroke; Steven Boyle, 7; John Hold, 6; Brian Ptucha, 5; Daniel Puttmann, 4; Ben Blair, 3; Oliver Ingram, 2; Conor Murphy, bow
Men's Lightweight Eights (Sunday)
Erica Cunningham, cox; Fredrik Aasaaren, stroke; Matt Bellesheim, 7; Colin Ross, 6; Jakub Buczek, 5; Oliver Gruterich, 4; Max Fenner, 3; Trevor Docter, 2; Petros Krommidas, bow