Womens Fall '09 Regatta Review

Post date: Dec 15, 2008 3:13:24 PM

State of the Navy Address – GT Women's Crew

by Varsity Women's Head Coach: Ross Beattie

The Varsity Women's 2008-09 campaign started off strong, almost bursting at the seams.

After graduating more than half of the Varsity women’s team at the end of the 2008 spring season it was with great pleasure that I met the 2008-2009 team in mid-August. The turnout and caliber of athletes was unexpected but quickly appreciated.

Leading the posse were four returning varsity members, three of which were Dad Vail grand finalists, with two being medalists. They were joined by ten women that stepped up from last year’s strong novice squad, a team that won the Novice Womens 8+ at SIRA and that narrowly missed a trip to the Dad Vail grand finals in the same event. Rounding out the group was our lone experienced freshman athlete, who quickly learned the ropes and was made me the butt of her jokes, just like the rest of the team.

Training started quickly and went well, with all of the returning athletes and most of the “new” kids besting previous fall season erg and strength scores.

As we know, there was a bit of incident with the trailer the night before the first race of the season, the Head of the Chattanooga. Not to be sidetracked, the team (and by team I mean all four squads—women/men and varsity/novice) woke up the next morning knowing what they had to do. Rob had worked his magic overnight and made arrangements for just about every crew to have replacement equipment for race day. One men’s and one women’s 2- were not able to race do to the lack of seaworthiness of their borrowed pair. Nevertheless, 4 medals and a number of top 5 finishes from the womens novice and varsity teams, combined with the efforts of the mens squad secured the team points title at the Head of the Chattanooga.

The varsity women sent two 4+ entries to the Head of the Charles, one entered in the Collegiate 4+, the other in the Club 4+. Both crews raced hard, but the results of the Club 4+ were hampered by starting position, a stiff wind and uncooperative competition. The Collegiate 4+, building on the strong performance and guaranteed position of the 2007 GT entry, tore through course to a 5th place finish. (As a side note, former GT rower Michelle Williams-Davis, now living, working and training in Philadelphia, competed in and won the Womens Open Lightweight 8+ with the Vesper Boat Club.) That win, combined with her beating me on a 2k erg last spring completes the transition…the student is now the master (but I was pretty out of shape on the erg).

The results of the Head of the Chattahoochee and Head of the South finished in much the same way as the Head of the Chattanooga for the women’s novice and varsity squads: 7 medals, 12 top 5 finishes.

Most impressive is that both of the squads were able to finish in front of most, if not all, of the club crews in their event. It has became almost commonplace to knock off full varsity programs.

Liz Henry and Nick Marino, both working with the Novice Women, are excited about the upcoming spring season. They are carrying 17 athletes into the new year with the intent of building on their consistent racing performances and a late season surge that culminated with a crushing smackdown of a very decorated UGA team. For those alumni that were not present for the GT-UGA scrimmage, you missed a good one. I’ve seen a lot of rowing, but that day I saw the worst (and by saying that I mean best), bloodiest crab of my life. Thankfully the person on the receiving was 1) from UGA 2) not seriously hurt.

The Varsity Women approach spring 2009 with the same optimism: 16 athletes (conveniently split as 8 lwts and 8 hvy) with coxies to drive those big boats present opportunities not seen by GT women for a few years. Bigger and better ergs scores, increased technical proficiency, and a “kick’em when they’re down” attitude should lead to uncharted waters and maybe a win or two when it counts.