IRA 2021: A Bittersweet Triumph – Coverage of the IRA regattas
As mentioned yesterday, 2021 is an ‘asterisk’ year in countless ways, as we all understand too well – but you can’t tell on the water in Mercer Lake today. The few on-site observers as well as a lot of people online saw teams they had never seen at IRA before, unexpected teams multiply during the day / weekend, the teams with the best outings in the world. all time and teams not just celebrating when they’re done. ahead, but in the ranks of each event.
As reported yesterday, the three defending champions weren’t there this year, and they were missed like any strong competitor would be, but there seemed to be more going on here. It seems that it’s not every year that the crews who placed 9th, 11th or 14th, for example, splash water, huddle in the boat, climb on gunwales, etc. There was a lot going on just getting to this weekend, as well as navigating the weather and conditions to make it to the final, and it seemed like a lot of teams are enjoying and celebrating that fact.
The upcoming men’s V8 pack
The University of Washington became favorites and swept away all five heavyweight events, and even for the first ones, Washington coach Mike Callahan said appreciation for experience and the sport was at the forefront. , especially after two long years of waiting.
“Since 2019 and 2020, we’ve been really preaching that we need to take more time to look around and enjoy on a daily basis – not just a data point at the championship at the end of the year and decide if we have a good or a bad year, ”Callahan said after the race.
“We needed to enjoy our camaraderie and our team more, and even last year we were on the right track – then COVID came along and your season is leaving you. Everyone was really dedicated to coming back, including the fifth year seniors, and I think it was because they appreciated it; enjoy rowing for rowing. And then even this week I told them they are on top of the mountain here, and you have to watch the view no matter what happens during the race The results will be the results, but you have to love the camaraderie and sport for who they are and what they do for you and for each other. ”
“So when we got here today I felt really good, and even last night I thought, hey, you know, I really enjoyed this year in a way, day by day. : all that. With these guys, it’s been really special that way, and I could even say one of the most special years of all my time coaching. The guys were amazing. We had them. asked to change their lifestyle and they did; we had no COVID interruptions; nothing. Told us you could live in the dormitory and come to the boathouse, and that’s all they had, and they did. And uh, the fact that they wanted to do it and that they were supporting each other through everything I don’t even think it was possible at one point, but they have it. did and they kept saying they wanted to be here – and we kept saying we wanted to be here.
“In December a lot of guys were doubting a season; they were hearing from other coaches and universities, and we decided ‘hey, this is our gunwale, our boathouse, and we’re not going to listen to it all. the noise there. We had the opportunity to practice, and if all we do is row singles all year round, that has some value. Singles will get you in good enough shape – if you ride a single 30 km on Lake Washington or 40 km around Mercer Island that will get you in shape!
“So that was her beauty. Many times I reflected along the way that they were doing it, and there are hard lessons and hard times for sure. I mean it was hard – it was. almost emotional at times. We move forward as young people, to learn that when you have challenges in life, you have to face them, and that’s what this sport does for you. ”
And Callahan said that rowing a lot is not really a struggle.
“To have the opportunity to row, we were very lucky; you can’t go to big gatherings, but you can row every day. You have to make sure you enjoy it, because a lot of people don’t. hadn’t been well over the past two years, you have to look at that year as a luxury, go out and row bachelor with your friends.
“You took on this challenge together, not alone on your parents’ couch; you are here with each other. We are going to cherish this for all of these things.”
Callahan had great things to say about the Varsity crew, but perhaps an interesting observation for rowing enthusiasts around the world is that he found that this crew exhibited speed in all conditions – tailwind, headwind, flat water, rough water – for coaches who are waking up. get up in the morning and check the direction of the wind with dread, having this trait in a crew would indeed be welcome.
Dartmouth College was by far the surprise crew of the year – as, when the university placed second in the time trial on Friday, messages began to ring out about the reliability of the timing system . But the 2V came in fourth half an hour later, then the 3V came in third after that, which belied the idea, and the stellar Dartmouth weekend was real and ongoing.
This morning, Dartmouth medalized in the three eights and placed fourth in the four (stored by lightweight), recording what could be their best IRA ever, at least in recent memory.
Dartmouth coach Wyatt Allen said he and the team were “pleasantly surprised” with the results and would analyze how the season has unfolded in the days to come.
“We’ll spend some time this summer looking back to figure out exactly what helped put this together, and we’ve been working on the rigging and stuff, but it’s really guys. really segmented and fractured for us; with the quarter. system we’re in, then with the quarterly assignments (due to Covid), we had different groups each quarter, but overall it was just the team that remained united and continued to move in a positive direction, no matter where she was.
We still miss a lot of our sophomores and juniors, but overall we are excited about the team we have right now as they stay united, support each other and keep working. hard. ”
Allen said the lack of head-to-head race results might have made it less difficult to come out big on Championship weekend.
“In some ways it made it really simple because we weren’t looking to make any adjustments but just to go here to improve on the previous race. We have pretty simple race plans and don’t know much about the competition and don’t adapt to the previous race. what the other crews were going to do allowed us to focus on controlling what we could control and doing the best we could. ”
And that notion is at the heart of Allen’s take-out following the team’s superb championship.
“Maybe this is a bit of a cliché, but I think the big lesson for us is that you can only control what you can control. You focus on your own speed, and if you do it right, that. can work. ”
George Washington broke their previously strongest performances on any boat, and that will have to serve for this final season’s record book for the program. The team and coach Eric Gehrke had a bubbling celebration after the regatta which was to be extremely bittersweet, but all would agree that the team set an outstanding example of, well, almost all of the values many of which talk to us about rowing, even if we can’t always meet them; George Washington’s crews have met them all this year.
“We are very proud of this team, their effort and their commitment to the process for an unimaginable year,” said Gehrke. “After being cut and all the hardships that came with it every week, we pushed the team to focus on each other and put the day-to-day process above anything else. Together we really grew in the framework of these concepts, supporting each other when one of us hesitated.
“This incredible commitment shone through this weekend, with each boat posting its best result in GW history and winning 7th at the Ten Eyck and 2nd at the Chapman Improvement Trophy. The circumstances with GW are disappointing as I think we have shown this weekend that we are building a top down program and are now losing that opportunity. All credit goes to these young adults and my coaches for getting up every morning to get the job done, trusting our process. ”