– For many of the men and women of the Michigan Men’s Rowing team, the season does not begin after the tryout, or after the first long workout has been submitted to Coach Hartsuff, or even after the first leaves have started falling into Argo Pond. The season, with all its competitiveness and vigor begins when the first duo of port and starboard push off the dock for the annual Pairs Matrix.
Held concurrently with a 10k erg test, the pairs matrix is used as the principle metric for determining which members of the team will compete at the Head of the Charles Regatta, in Boston, Massachusetts, on the weekend of October 20th.
This year’s matrix featured the top twenty-four rowers from the Varsity squad: Twelve ports and twelve starboards. It included seniors, juniors, and a select few sophomores all vying for spots in the traveling lineups.
While the format of the matrix is relatively simple, the strategy and emotional fatigue are about as complex as it gets with on-the-water racing. Every rower is to sprint down the 1000-meter stretch of river four times. After each repetition, he switches into a new boat with a new partner. This creates an empirical situation where the fastest starboard will be found to row the fastest with all other ports and vice versa. At the end of the four repetitions, times from each length are added up, and the individuals with the fastest times are declared the winners of that heat.
On Thursday, the winners of Heat 1, Caleb Brown (starboard) and Dan Jenkins (port) as well as the winners of Heat 2, Greg Miller (starboard) and Alex Bruderer (port) advanced directly to Saturday’s Grand Final, effectively securing their attendance at this year’s HOC Regatta. All other rowers were made to compete in a second round of matrix racing the following day.
On Friday, the winners of Heat 3, Lakin Vitton (starboard) and Kevin Hinkle (port) as well as the winners of Heat 4, James Pew (starboard) and John Wiegand (port) advanced to Saturday’s Grand Final, while the second and third place finishers in each event landed a spot in Saturday’s Petite Final.
Ultimately, it was James Pew and Dan Jenkins who came out victorious from the Grand Final.
We look forward to more hard fought performances from these two as we move on through the season.