2019 AJR Fall Season Recaps

10.7 Head of the Christina. AJR’s start at the Head of the Christina was an unprecedented start to this year’s racing season.  AJR boats won more events and had more top three finishes than any other Head of the Christina in the history of our program. The Varsity 8 boat came in first place.

10.4 Occoquan Chase. FAIRFAX STATION, VA – On October 14, 2018, at the Occoquan Chase AJR boats where able to see where they stand against the serious competition in our own backyard. We stand tall and proud. But we have a lot of work to do.

The best result of the day for the boys’ squad was the V8+, finishing 3rd of 27 entries. We were 27 seconds off 1st place Gonzaga and 20 seconds from 2nd place TBC. Whitman was 9 seconds behind us, B-CC 15 seconds, and Dematha 24 seconds. Last year AJR’s V8+ finished 4th, 35 seconds behind 1st place Gonzaga but 12 seconds behind 2nd place TBC. Are we faster? Gonzaga slower? TBC faster? Too many variables. All we know is that we are fast and need to get even faster.

Last year the 2V8+ was 13th of 30, 1’19” behind our 1V8+. This year our second Upper 8+ entry finished 18th and 1’21” behind our 1V8+. But this year’s entry is a Lightweight 8+, so it seems rather fast, which we already knew from last weekend’s win in the 2V8+ event.

Our 1V4+ finished 12th of 23 entries, 59.5 seconds behind Gonzaga’s entry (the top half of their 2V8+). Last year we were 22nd and 2’40” behind them. This year our 2V4+ was 20th, and 2’09” behind Gonzaga’s top entry in this event. So our 2V4+ fared better than last year’s only 4+ entry.

In the Lower division entries did not have as strong results, and revealed much work is ahead of us. Our JV8+ finished 13th of 17, 1’18” behind Gonzaga’s 6V8+ (yes; they have 6 varsity 8+s). But our boat was a blend of mostly Spring novice and second year rowers plus one new novice. We also entered a novice 8+ in that same event which may have been the only novice lineup in the race. They finished 16th of 17, about 1.5 minutes behind our JV8+; not bad for their first showing.

We also had a JV4+entered in the Lower 4+ event, which finished 9th of 11. It too was made up of a blend of new novice and second year rowers, who never had an opportunity to get in practice time together. So, all things considered, they performed respectably. There were no Lower events from last year to compare these results. We have learned a lot from today and plan to make use of this knowledge to better our already solid performance.

10.27 Head of the Schuylkill. PHILADELPHIA, PA –  GIRLS (from Coach Eddie):  With HOSR 2018 in the books, it has given us a lot to consider and look forward to.  But first the results.

The V4+ was the first race of the day, finishing 13th out of 68 competitors and setting the standard for all our varsity crews this past weekend.  It is worth mentioning that they actually rowed the last 750m or so faster than any boat that placed below 7th, making the sprints this spring an exciting prospect.

Next down the course was our novice 8+, who finished 10th of 30 boats, roughly 2 minutes and 15 places faster than our novices finished last year.  More importantly, they were only 2 seconds behind PNRA, likely to be their main competition this spring.

Next came the Jv4+’s.  To clear up any confusion should you choose to look at the results yourself, the bow numbers on these boats ended up being switched.  But despite a last minute boat switch up, our Jv 4’s finished 17th and 40th.  A notably strong finish, by generally young crews with many of the rowers either still novice or in their first season as varsity.

After this a very tired novice 4+ got great racing experience hot seating right from their 8 and finishing 18th.

Finally our V8+ came onto the course and finished 21st, with half of the boat double racing.  It is also worth mentioning that this boat was at least 8 seconds closer to any boat that beat them at Occoquan chase, implying that progress is on the right track and out pacing many the progress of many other top crews.

These results are nothing to scoff at in what is likely the most competitive fall regatta outside of the Charles.  The AJR women’s team is especially young this year, with the overwhelming majority of our rowers only just having finished their novice year.  If we can continue to work hard and improve at the rate we have this fall, big things await us when spring rolls around.

BOYS (from Coach Davis): We had am impressive First Place win by our Novice 4+ Boat. Three of the four boys learned to row this spring and only one just started this August. A true novice crew, but exceptionally strong. As permitted by HOSR, for wise safety reasons, the coxswain was in his third season. But they outdid all predictions by beating the next fastest crew (Princeton National Rowing Association) by over 14 seconds. They performed fantastically, but were not the only ones.

So I want to focus on the wonderful surprises yesterday; those results that did not bring medals but drew much attention. To start – our novices. Both the girls and the boys who far outdid AJR’s novice performance of the past couple years. Two years ago, the girls’ 8+ finished 20th and last year 25th. This year the girls finished 10th! Similarly, the boys novice 8+ finished 29th two years ago and last year they were 40th. This year they came in 11th. These kids and their coaches (Zach and Ryan) are really showing their stuff.

On the varsity level, we also saw great things. Last year the Boys’ V8+ finished a remarkable 11th moving up the rank from the prior year’s 26th place finish. This year the boys would appear to have slipped down a few rungs to 17th. However, this does not take into account the increased competitiveness this year with many super fast crews attending. To get a better sense of where these boys are at (and heading), we must look at the times. Last year they were 20″ behind perennial powerhouse Gonzaga and two weeks ago we were 27″ behind them. But yesterday we were just 18″ off Gonzaga. This crew is rebuilding and moving swiftly despite so many having graduated last spring.

In 2016 and 2017 AJR entered only one 8+ in the JV8+ event. In 2016 they fininshed 21st and last year moved up to 13th. This year we were able to field two 8+s in this category, one being a true lightweight boat; the average of our crew is 137lbs (lightweight classification is 150lbs or less). This Lightweight crew held AJR’s 13th position behind repeat winner Row America Rye. However, last year our open-weight 8+ was 55 seconds behind the winning time and this year our Ltwt 8+ nearly cut that in half, finishing only 29 seconds behind Row America Rye’s open-weight 2V8+. Our open-weight 2V8+ finished 28th of the 71 crews racing, just 3 seconds behind Whitman High School’s 2V8+. Powerful rowing by both our boats

Other strong showings came from our varsity 4+s though our focus was on the 8+s. The V4+ was 29th of 75 and the 2V4+ was 31st of 61 boats racing that event. Not to encroach on Coach Edward but I do want to applaud the varsity girls’ 4+s. Their V4+ finished 13th of 68 entries and the 2V4+ 17th of 48, setting a standard for the boys to follow.

11.3 Head of the Hooch. CHATTANOOGA, TN – AJR’s first crack at the Head of the Hooch proved to be the best new plan of the season for which we all should thank our director Todd Nix, who missed out on the excitement and great weather. We also must thank all the parents who handled logistics and ensured the successful execution of this plan. On to the success of our athletes.

Out first race of the day Saturday was the Boys’ V4+ which finished 52nd of 95 boats racing. Theirs was a performance for which they should be as proud as I am. This is an opportune time to explain that at Hooch earning an automatic invitation to return next year is not based on a Top Half finish as with other lottery entry regattas. It is based on being within 10% of the winning time. This can make for a greater challenge since it is not how you finished relative to everyone else racing, but how close you were to the winners – typically very fast crews. As an example, South Jersey which finished 5th at Head of the Schuylkill in the 1V4+ event last week was 10th at Hooch. So, our V4+ (which raced as a 2V4+ last week) clocking a time within 2 seconds of a Top 10% automatic invitation is a solid result.

Our next race was the Girls’ V8+ which finished 23rd of 76 entries; a mere 6% off the winning time, well within the 10% parameter, becoming the first AJR crew to win an automatic invitation to return to the Hooch.

The very next race at the regatta was the Boys’ N8+. They were 6th of 32 entries and only 3% off the winning time for their event.

The Boys’ V8+ went off about an hour later in what seemed like a raging current that caused some difficulty just getting the boat off the dock but also resulted in what may be the fastest head race of their lives. Holding an incredible 1:27 split average for 5Km, they finished 12th of 70 crews, and about 4.5% off the winning time.

Our last race of Saturday was the Girls’ V4+. In addition to being fast, they are consistent, having once again clocked a time 6% off the winner (28th of 91 crews), handily ensuring both AJR girls’ boats that raced can return next year.

Sunday we had our last race of the regatta and the first event of the morning – the Boys’ Ltwt 8+. The fog never lifted off the first half of the course, requiring the organizers to shorten the race to an announced 2,100 meters which turned out to be closer to 2,200 meters. Everyone shared the same dilemma of not having trained for a sprint race. But better a shortened course than cancelling races altogether. And this afforded us the opportunity to see how we stand relative to the fastest lightweight crews in the nation which regularly participate in the Hooch. Our boys finished 9th of 33 crews, just 5% off the repeat Hooch winner and Youth National Champion Belem Jesuit, one more sign of an exciting spring season ahead of us.