May 16, 2012

Dad Vail Icing on The Cake

After sweeping the varsity fours events at New Englands the Bowdoin Navy headed to Philadelphia for the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta and iced the season's  cake with  with three crews advancing to the semis,  a silver medal for the women in the D-2/3 Varsity Four, and lessons learned in Lane 0.

Coxswain Bonnie Cao '13 drove her crew of stroke Caroline Ciocca '12, Heather Kinnear '12, Courtney Payne '15, and Katie Ross '14 to a photo finish with Philadelphia University while a strong Nova SE crew won by 4 seconds.  This Bowdoin crew demonstrated the heart  of the whole team with a determined and powerful sprint that just never backed down from the challenge.  This silver  extends Bowdoin's medal winning streak in this event to 4 years, including the gold in 2009, silver in 2010, and bronze in 2011.  Ciocca and Kinnear have been in the medal crews  for the last 3 years!

Both the Novice Men and Varsity Men advanced to the semis showing the depth of the team in national level competition.  Coxswain Bridgett McCoy '15 had the reins for stroke Jack Wostrel '15, Brock Cassidy '15, Nathan Post '15 and Bryce Ervin '15.  This crew surprised the field, but not themselves,  with its second place finish in the qualifier; they raced with the same confidence and determination that characterizes each of our top boats, and carried those qualities to the semi as well, even though they did not advance.

The Varsity Men get the prize for the highest drama of all our entries. As the saying goes,  "Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug." After winning the gold at New Englands, coxswain Christine Buckland '12, Dan Polasky '12, Tucker Colvin '13, Cal Brooks '15 and Mark Endrizzi '15  came to Philadelphia with high hopes for  contesting a medal.  But in the Friday qualifier, they hit a submerged log at 500 meters which sheared off the skeg and rudder, and forced them out of the race.  Fortunately, Cal's mother, Beth Goodman, is also a lawyer, and her maternal and legal drive quickly called up the USRA Rules of Rowing where she found grounds to appeal the result.  The appeal was succesful and the crew was placed in a semi for Sat. out in Lane 0 next to the wall. Thanks to our friends at Amherst and Gerry Quinlan at St. Joe's we got the parts needed for John Tytus of Pocock to repair the skeg and rudder.   In the semi the crew staged an all out assault, but from that outside lane couldn't quite catch the leaders to advance to the finals.

The Head Referee complimented these men by saying that in his years on the river he had never seen such a good result from that lane.  And Anne-Marie Barron, Christine's mom, wrote the crew a note worthy of gold in itself. A bit of it reads,

"…if the playing field had been level…you would have had incredible results at Dad Vail- your entire season is evidence of that.  Yet in spite of profound disappointment…your grace, dignity, integrity, and courage stand as indicators of the champions you truly are…"

The Novice Women tasted some disappointment as well.  Coxie Alex Lynds '15, stroke Anna Westervelet '14, Catherine Yochum '15, Emily Weinberger '15, and Mary Bryan Barksdale '15 were racing as a new line up and rowed their hearts out, but were just not quite fast enough to advance.  Their intensity and desire bode well for seasons to come.

And finally, kudos to our two scullers in the exhibition singles.  Neither Elliott Munn '12 nor Samantha Burns '13 advanced from the qualifiers, but both finished with big grins after racing hard on the Schuylkill.  These two embodied what it means to be a part of Bowdoin Navy, and as we close the books on the 25th Anniversary of The Restoration of Rowing at Bowdoin, their effort is captured by another part of Anne-Marie's note:

"…commitment to one another and common values and shared goals, taking the work seriously but not the self too seriously, always being ready to offer and receive support and compassion during times of challenge, and laughing often- are among the secrets of true success."

The Dad Vail this year was truly icing on the cake of a great season, full of great results and lessons learned.