May 12-13, 2017
– In our second to last race of the season, the Michigan Rowers travelled back to Philadelphia to compete in the nation’s largest intercollegiate regatta, the Dad Vails, on the Schuylkill River. Entering into its 79th year, the Vails draws in some of the best club and varsity talent from around the country, and due to its size, offers more possible boat entries than any other event we attend as a team throughout the spring season.
Per usual, the Vails was held over a period of two days: Friday and Saturday; however, due to an impending Nor’easter, the regatta schedule was rearranged and eventually cut short on the second day of racing. Many of the preliminary races held on Friday were ‘Time Trials,’ which were conducted as a head race of sorts. Taking place on the historic six lane course, only lanes two and three were used as competitors were sent down towards the finish at alternating ten second intervals. So, the first rower to start went down lane two, and then ten seconds later, the next rower started in lane 3, etc.
Boats that did not have to compete in a time trial went directly to a semifinal, where only the top two finishers in a given heat advanced to the Grand Final to be held on Saturday. The only exception being the Men’s Third Varsity 8 boat, which went directly to a final on Saturday due to the size of the competitive field.
The first of the team’s races was the Men’s 1x, which featured our seniors Mike Griffin and Scott Griffith. Their race was held in the time trial format where they finished 22nd and 20th overall in a huge field of competitors. This performance was good enough to land them a spot in the D Final for Saturday, which was unfortunately not held due to weather concerns.
Next was the Novice 4+ in a time trial where they placed second behind Colgate and ahead of Mercyhurst, both of which they would see later in the Saturday Grand Final, where our boat placed fourth.
The Novice 8+ event was marked by a strong time trial performance in our 1F and 2F, where they placed fifth and ninth overall in a pool of twenty-two entries. Later in the day, the 1F placed second in their heat behind Temple, which allowed them the opportunity to compete in the Saturday Grand Final where they eventually took fourth. The 2F finished third in their semifinal, so they were relegated to the petite final where they placed third.
The Men’s 2- was the next Michigan boat to launch on Friday. Their event was also a time trial, where they posted the fifth fastest time of the day, placing them well within the range of crews that advance to the afternoon’s semifinal. Later, they finished first in their semifinal, which meant they could race in the Grand Final on Saturday. Following a ‘hot-seat’ situation, the pair was ready to race in the Grand Final, where they placed fourth overall behind Loyola Maryland, Georgia Tech, and Colgate.
The Varsity 4+ featured a boat mostly composed of our novice rowers. In their time trial they placed within the range of entries that were to advance to a semifinal. Eventually they placed 6th in their semifinal and due to weather restrictions, were unable to race in their petite final.
A strong time trial for the first varsity 8+ landed them a good lane for their afternoon semifinal, where they were set to face against Virginia, Army, Lehigh, Jacksonville, and Villanova. In a heartbreaker, the 1V missed out on a grand final appearance by a bow ball on Virginia’s varsity 8. Our boat would go on to win the petite final the next day.
The Second Varsity 8+ had a dominant performance in their semifinal heat on Friday meaning that their spot in the Saturday Grand Final was guaranteed. Racing against Saint Joe’s, Drexel, Virginia, Delaware, and Army, the 2V placed fifth overall.
Our Lightweight 4+ boat went directly to a semifinal race on the first day of the regatta, where they placed fourth; this gave them a spot in the petite final, ultimately placing fifth.
The JV 4+ also narrowly missed a grand final appearance from their semifinal performance; During their petite final, a powerful sprint pushed them 0.2 seconds ahead of Temple to take first place in a stunning display of maturity and determination.
The 3V raced directly in a Saturday grand final against Drexel, Saint Joe’s, Virginia, and Delaware. Stroked by senior Jordan Shore, who has been recovering tremendously from a recent injury, the boat took third, narrowly edging out Virginia to become the first and only Michigan boat to medal in the regatta.
Conclusively, the 2017 Dad Vails was certainly not the regatta that we had hoped for; however, there is no need to view our training efforts thus far as having been in vain. We know that there is a lot of speed to gain in the proceeding two weeks in the lead up to ACRA, and we sure plan to take advantage of this time.
And as always,