LYNDHURST, N.J. -- The rainstorms predicted for Saturday didn't materialize, but sunny skies and gentle breezes did. The conditions were perfect for the Columbia men's heavyweight and lightweight rowing programs to open their 2013-2014 seasons.
The lightweights, under new head coach Nich Lee Parker, got the campaign off first, competing in Connecticut's Head of the Housatonic. The action shifted to New Jersey a little later, where both the heavies and lights competed in a fours event at the Head of the Passaic.
Parker, formerly the Lions' assistant lightweight coach, was pleased with his two-state start.
Against a strong field that included Yale, Brown, and Division III kingpin, Williams College, Columbia's eight finished seventh of 10 in the Collegiate Eights for IRA schools. The coach filled the boat with eight of his top 16 rowers, many of whom were seeing their first college competition.
Rowing the 2.7 mile Housatonic River course in a borrowed shell, Parker noted, "We got the engine going, we got the jitters out."
He was particularly pleased with the effort put forth by the New Haven Rowing Club, the event host. "The New Haven Rowing Club," he said, ""was a great host and we are really appreciative of all the work they did in order to put on a well-run regatta."
Many of Parker's rowers joined the Columbia heavyweights at the Head of the Passaic on the Passaic River.
Scott Alwin, making his debut as head coach of the Lion heavyweights, fielded three fours in the Men's Open Fours. They were joined by two fours from the lightweight ranks.
As it has in the past, Columbia dominated the race. Lion boats took the top four positions, and five of the eight. Alwin divided his heavyweights by classes, with the juniors finishing first, the sophomores second, and a combination boat of assorted classes coming in third. Two lightweights, made up principally of rowers from Parker's second varsity eight, were fourth and sixth.
The Passaic is a demanding course, with bends, docks and bridges, featuring no passing zones leading up to the spans. Despite the fact that none of the heavyweights' coxswains were familiar with the course, they all handled it well.
"They all matched what they had done in practice, or better," Alwin noted. "I think you have to give our Junior Class boat credit. There was a tailwind and a tail current, which rewards aggressive rowing. They were aggressive.
"It was fun to race our lightweights. The lightweight A rowed an excellent race, it almost defeated our second heavyweight four. You could tell they were experienced rowers; Anders Smedsrud, who stroked them, stroked our varsity lightweight eight last season."
That' s the eight which earned a bronze medal in the IRA National Lightweight Championship.
All in all, Alwin concluded, "It was a good day on the race course."
Columbia's rowers hope for an equally good day in the Head of the Charles Regatta October 19 and 20.
Head of the Housatonic
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Houstatonic River, Indian Well State Park
Men's Collegiate Eights, IRA (2.7 miles)
1. Yale, 13:24.7
2. Yale, 13:48.6
3. Brown, 14:02.6
4. Yale, 14:12.9
5. Williams College B.C., 14:31.1
6. Yale, 14:28.0
7. Columbia, 14:28.9
8. Yale, 14:51.9
9. Yale, 14:58.5
10. Yale, 15:20.5
Note: Official results did not identify Yale boats as A, B, etc.
The Head of the Passaic
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Passaic River, Lyndhurst, N.J.
Men's Open Fours (2.5 miles)
1. Columbia D (Juniors), 13:32.99
2. Columbia B (Sophomores), 13:34.46
3. Columbia A (Combination), 13:38.52
4. Columbia (Lightweight A), 13:40.12
5. Nereid B.C., 14:07.82
6. Columbia C (Lightweight B), 14:41.53
7. NYU, 17:38.74
8. Passaic River Racing-Stevens Institute, 17:54.10
Today's Boatings (Head of the Housatonic)
Erica Cunningham, cox; Colin Ross, stroke; Jakub Buczek, 7; Fredrik Aasaren, 6; Brian Ptucha, 5; Oliver Gruterich, 4; Petros Krommidas, 3; Trevor Docter, 2; Matt Bellesheim, bow
Today's Boatings (Head of the Passaic)
Columbia Heavyweights (Juniors)
Sam Harris, stroke; James Glynn, 3; Buck Goggin, 2; Matt Ridgeway, bow
Columbia Heavyweights (Sophomores)
Emmet Gross, stroke; Alex Barkume, 3; Josh Fram, 2; Jonathan Rosow, bow
Columbia Heavyweights (Combination)
Eliot Meade, stroke; Brent Laurint, 3; Christian Aal, 2; Ben Coombs, bow
Columbia Lightweights A
Yih-Jen Ku, cox; Anders Smedsrud, stroke; Steve Boyle, 3; Oliver Ingram, 2; Ben Blair, bow
Columbia Lightweights B
Julia Gron, cox; Conor Murphy, stroke; John Hold, 3; Lane Brokaw, 2; Daniel Puttmann, bow