NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- Although the storm clouds hovering over the Raritan River looked bad, Columbia's results were anything but -- flat water, no wind, and a heavyweight triumph over Rutgers to retain the Collins Cup and give Scott Alwin his first win as the Lions' heavyweights head coach.
    
Columbia's best race probably was its first, the varsity eights competition for the Cup. The Lions watched the Scarlet Knights take the lead, thanks to a staggered start, and hold it through the first 500 meters.
    
But Columbia took control in the second 500. It held off Rutgers,  and opened its lead even more, pulling away to an impressive 20-second victory, 5:57.3 to 6:17.6.
    
"It's good to start with a victory," Alwin said. "We rowed a good piece. We rowed the best I've seen in the past couple of weeks."
    
The second varsity eights proceeded much like the first, with the Lions not taking control until the second 500. But they weren't able to turn it on like they had in the varsity eights race, and won by 6.6 seconds. They rowed, Alwin noted, "a disjointed race."
    
The third varsity eights included two Columbia boats, the third varsity and the fourth varsity, which went into the 3V because Rutgers lacks the manpower for a fourth eight.
    
This time, it was Columbia that took the early lead, in control by the 500-meter mark on its way to a multiple-length victory. There was real suspense, though, in the battle between Rutgers' 3V and the Lions' 4V.
    
"This was the first race many of our rowers had ever been in," Alwin said. "Rutgers moved to an open-water lead. We had an opportunity to catch up at the second bridge on the course, particularly when Rutgers was forced to steer out. It opened a space for us to go through, but we didn't have the experience to recognize the opening, and capitalize on it."
    
Still, Columbia cut down the margin, losing to the Scarlet Knight 3V by just 1.3 seconds. "That was good for our team to see, that you can race like that." The Lion 4V included five first-years, three sophomores, and one senior.
    
The Lions return to their home course on Overpeck Lake in New Jersey next Saturday as host to a four-team regatta. They will meet MIT for the Alumni Cup, as well as Holy Cross and Dartmouth. The three visitors from New England will all race against each other, as well.
    
Today's results:   

Collins Cup
Columbia vs. Rutgers
March 29, 2014
Raritan River, New Brunswick, N.J.

Varsity Eights
1. Columbia, 5:57.3
2. Rutgers, 6:17.6

Second Varsity Eights
1. Columbia, 6:05.4
2. Rutgers, 6:12.0

Third Varsity Eights
1. Columbia 3V, 6:09.2
2. Rutgers, 6:27.1
3. Columbia 4V, 6:28.3

Today's Boatings in the Collins Cup

Varsity Eight
Colin Keane, cox; Emmett Gross, stroke; Ben Coombs, 7; Buck Goggin, 6; Alex Barkume, 5; Clemens Auersperg, 4; Matt Ridgeway, 3; Josh Fram, 2; Jonathon Rosow, bow

Second Varsity Eight
Oliver Jennings, cox; Sam Harris, stroke; Andrew Bair, 7; Daniel Kolbe, 6; Connor Jones, 5; Christian Aral, 4; James Glynn, 3; Elliot Meade, 2; Rob Cornacchia, bow
 
Third Varsity Eight
Daniel Hong, cox; Matt Panton, stroke; John Clapp, 7; Max Lawton, 6; Connor Coughlin, 5; Alastair Clements, 4; Zach Ellenbogen, 3; Jack Michaud, 2; Max Lindemann, bow

Fourth Varsity Eight
Andrew Tang, cox; Brent Laurint, stroke; Tucker Klutey, 7; Eitan Rothman, 6; Killian Brackey, 5; Jake Petterson, 4; Nicolaas Woudenberg, 3; Gregory Klumpp, 2; Peter Kiernan, bow