Revamped varsity open-four boat takes gold

In preparation for the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships this weekend, the women’s crew took on the top schools in Southern California last weekend in the Miller Cup Regatta in Marina Del Rey, Calif.

To give the top athletes in her program the best experience, head coach Pattie Pinkerton combined the top lightweight and open rowers in the varsity open-four boat. Living up to the expectations set for them, coxswain Claire Romelfanger and rowers Emily Gray, Jen Watters, Liz Jones and Sara Patton — the only heavyweight rower — came in first to bring home a gold metal.

“”I wanted to give the elements of our lightweight crew some key race experience,”” Pinkerton said.

The boat finished in 8:48, 10 seconds faster than second-place finisher UCLA and 23 seconds ahead of third-place finisher University of San Diego, both of which are heavyweight crews.

Pinkerton said the win over those Division I heavyweight boats was even more impressive because of the day’s weather conditions.

“”They did that against a headwind, which should have benefited a heavier crew,”” she said.

Pinkerton was also impressed with the varsity open-four crew because of its “”very consistent performance”” last weekend; the boat won its qualifying round in 8:47 to beat Loyola Marymount University and UC Irvine, respectively — a one-second difference from its final winning time later that day.

According to Pinkerton, the coxing job by Romelfanger left her even more satisfied with the team.

“”The rowers told me the coxswain did a great job,”” Pinkerton said.

Another impressive finish in the Miller Cup came from the novice open four boat, which won the petite final over Loyola Marymount in 9:25.

The boat was comprised of coxswain Kim Robbins, nd rowers Sarah Tyler, Natalie Seitz, Amanda Milligan and Amber Martin.

The varsity open-eight boat finished with a final time of 7:59, having come from behind to beat Chapman by 19 seconds. The crew finished in seventh place.

The lightweight eight boat did not compete last weekend but will participate in the WIRA Championships this weekend.

Pinkerton said that as a whole, the women’s crew did a very impressive job at the Miller Cup competition.

“”The crews are a little bit shaky because they haven’t raced for three weeks,”” she said. “”But they did very well.””

Part of that praise stems from the boats’ overall finishing times.

“”It looks like our speed is picking up,”” Pinkerton said.

The main goal of the team last weekend was not so much to improve its speed, but to prepare for the WIRA Championships this Saturday and Sunday.

Pinkerton said she expects medals from all of the boats that will be competing, but that the varsity open-four and novice open-four boats will be the “”key players”” judging from their performances last weekend.