FELLSMERE, Fla. -- Completing a superb week of Florida training with what head women's coach Scott Ramsey called "an even better day of racing", the three Columbia rowing programs demonstrated nearly-complete mastery in the Governor's Cup Regatta on Canal 54.

Facing a phalanx of solid Sunshine State crew programs, the Lions were victorious in all but one race, in making their last preparations for the beginning of regular-season rowing next week.

"This was a terrific week," Ramsey said. "We made progress in all areas. The varsity made a lot of technical improvements. From a practice standpoint, I could not have been happier."

The women won every one of their four races, totally in control of each, as the coach noted. The varsity eight defeated the host, Florida Tech, by 35 seconds, while the second varsity eight triumphed over Barry University by 17 seconds.

Columbia won the A fours by 38 seconds over Barry, and the B fours by equally-impressive margins over two shells from Nova Southeastern.

"Our team is very, very excited about racing against Yale and Penn next week," Ramsey said. "We're excited to see how we'll stack up against our competition in the league."

The women open their northern season next Saturday, March 24, as hosts of the Connell Cup regatta vs. Yale and Penn at the Orchard Beach Lagoon. The first race is expected to start about 12:30 p.m.

The Lion heavyweights faced a formidable foe for their first race, the varsity eights. FIT, strengthened by a number of international rowers, has built itself into an accomplished team, an annual contender for the Dad Vail title.

"The race with FIT," head coach Mike Zimmer noted said, "is always a good test for us."

Columbia got off to a good start in the 2000-meter race down Canal 54. Once in the lead, they started making moves.

"Our coxswain, Janelle Geddes, called for a push at 500 meters," Zimmer recalled, "and we made a very strong move at the 1000. We were very, very good in the third 500, opening up a wide margin."

The varsity eight also rowed against Jacksonville later in the regatta. By this time, the Canal was experiencing gusty headwinds, which handicapped the rowers. Nevertheless, Columbia won by 18 seconds.

The varsity fours rallied to open up a huge lead, winning by almost 40 seconds. The freshman eight found itself in a tough battle with the Lion freshman lightweights and Jacksonville's freshman heavyweights.

In a race too close to call for the first 1000, the heavies pulled away in the second half to top the lightweight eight by 8.6 seconds and the Dolphins by 20 seconds.

"This was a great trip," Zimmer said. "We got a lot better."

The heavyweights open their northern season next Saturday, March 24, at Rutgers for the Collins Cup, which was originally scheduled to be rowed on the Harlem River in New York. The first race on the Raritan begins at 9:50 a.m.

The Governor's Cup presents a unique challenge for coach Scott Alwin's lightweights. Because none of the Florida schools have a men's lightweight program, Alwin has to throw his rowers against heavyweight crews.

"Facing heavyweights really helps us line up," he noted. "The heavyweights have more power, and this helps us during the season when we face teams with more power than we do. We also rowed pieces during the week against our heavyweights. Rowing against heavyweights has a lot of value for us."

The varsity eight hit the water first, against Jacksonville's heavyweight eight, and edged the Dolphins by 4.3 seconds. The second varsity eight also beat Jacksonville, by 6.4 seconds.

"The second varsity eight rowed a pretty good piece," Alwin said. "They rowed with a chip on their shoulders. None of them think they should be in the second boat; they think they should be first-boat oarsmen."

The lightweight freshman eight gave Columbia's heavyweight freshmen all they could handle for much of their race. When the heavies pulled away, the freshman lights "bore down on Jacksonville and beat them," as the coach noted, by 12 seconds.

The varsity lights concluded Columbia's day with a race against FIT's varsity heavyweight eight. The Panthers jumped off the starting line into an advantage, and never really gave it up. The headwind that swept into Canal 54 didn't help Columbia's effort.

"FIT was very tough," Alwin said. "We were rowing into the headwind, and FIT was able to keep its advantage."

Columbia stayed close, though, losing to the Panthers by just 2.2 seconds.

The lightweights don't compete next week. The following Saturday, March 31, Columbia travels to Princeton for the Fosburgh Cup regatta in the morning against Princeton and Georgetown, and a race with Delaware in the afternoon. Both will be on Lake Carnegie.

Today's results:

The Governor's Cup
Columbia, Florida Tech, Jacksonville, Barry, Nova Southeastern
March 17, 2012
Canal 54, Fellsmere, Fla.

Men's Rowing (Columbia)

Varsity Eights
1. Columbia HWT, 5:45.2
2. Florida Tech (FIT) HWT, 5:58.6

Varsity Eights
1. Columbia LWT, 6:03.5
2. Jacksonville HWT, 6:07.8

Varsity Fours
1. Columbia HWT, 6:50.1
2. FIT, 7:27.9

Second Varsity Eights
1. Columbia LWT, 6:17.6
2. Jacksonville HWT, 6:24.0

Freshman Eights
1. Columbia HWT, 6:24.6
2. Columbia LWT, 6:33.2
3. Jacksonville HWT, 6:45.1

Varsity Eights
1. Columbia HWT, 5:59.3
2. Jacksonville HWT, 6:17.3

Varsity Eights
1. FIT HWT, 6:13.4
2. Columbia LWT, 6:15.6

Women's Rowing (Columbia)

Varsity Eights
1. Columbia, 6:39.5
2. FIT, 7:14.9

Varsity Eights
1. Columbia 2V, 6:48.9
2. Barry V8, 7:05.4

Varsity Fours
1. Columbia A, 7:42.0
2. Barry, 8:20.2

Varsity Fours
1. Columbia B, 7:57.2
2. Nova Southeastern A, 8:29.8
3. Nova Southeastern B, 8:43.7

Today's Boatings in the Governor's Cup

Women's Rowing

Varsity Eight
Stephanie Ngai, cox; Rebecca Randall, stroke; Samantha Warren, 7; Nikki Bourassa, 6; Alexandra Delaney, 5; Lily Keane, 4; Lottie Galliano, 3; Bailey Griswold, 2; Fiona Duffy, bow

Second Varsity Eight
Gabrielle Barilla, cox; McKenzie Largay, stroke; Karli McMenamin, 7; Sara Romano, 6; Katherine Bergstrom, 5; Kellie Solowski, 4; Natalie Rutherford, 3; Hilary Going, 2; Alexandra Swift, bow

Varsity Four A
Clare Hua, cox; Jessica Werlin, stroke; Jocelyn Bohn, 3; Caitlin Shufelt, 2; Louisa Mink, bow

Varsity Four B
Anais Rodriguez-Thompson, cox; Amelia Brunner, stroke; Sylvie Krekow, 3; Sara Hyten, 2; Nora Long, bow

Heavyweight Rowing

Varsity Eight
Janelle Geddes, cox; Connor Jones, stroke; Charles Wu, 7; Mike Donohue, 6; Sam Collins, 5; Clemens Auersperg, 4; Ben Coombs, 3; Daniel Kolbe, 2; Noah Whitehead, bow

Freshman Eight
Alex Xu, cox; Matt Ridgeway, stroke; Buck Goggin, 7; James Glynn, 6; Connor Murphy, 5; Rob Cornacchia, 4; D.J. Dlesk, 3; Zach Ellenbogen, 2; Sam Harris, bow

Varsity Four
Andrew Lake, cox; Elliot Meade, stroke; John Clapp, 3; Ian Winthrop, 2; Brent Laurint, bow

Lightweight Rowing

Varsity Eight
Amelia Kudenholdt, cox; Daniel Kirrane, stroke; Bruno Salemme, 7; John O'Mara, 6; James Kahmann, 5; John Hold, 4; Curtis Kachline, 3; Noah Buckley, 2; James Winford, bow

Second Varsity Eight
Erica Cunningham, cox; Roger Stone, stroke; Steve Boyle, 7; Blake Pinell, 6; Lane Brokaw, 5; Anders Smedsrud, 4; John Zucchi, 3; Connor Dougherty, 2; Chris Hatzis, bow

Freshman Eight
Logan Pirkl, cox; Griffin Whitlock, stroke; Ben Blair, 7; Fredrik Aasaaren, 6; Travis Simon, 5; Charlie Stigler, 4; Max Segall, 3; Paul Nungesser, 2; Matt Bellesheim, bow