Rowers Notch a Victory in First Race

    CREW — In addition to all the buzz about Halloween, the month of October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, in which charities around the world put on events to increase breast cancer awareness and raise funds for its research.

    On Oct. 25, the UCSD crew teams participated in their seventh annual Row For the Cure, hosted by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Held at Mission Bay, the fundraiser marked the Tritons’ first race of the season. In the women’s collegiate-eight A and B team race against Chapman University, UCSD came out on top, the varsity-eight boat surging toward the finish line with a time of 17:30. The Panthers were left to follow in UCSD’s wake, coming in a little over a minute later.

    According to senior co-captain Alissa Kispersky, the team’s success is fueled by its desire to take on larger rivals.

    “I think the team has a lot of heart this year,” said Kispersky. “Every single athlete is doing her part to make the team better. We may not have height or size on the other teams, but we are coming after them anyway.”
    Fellow senior co-captain Kelly Hansen explained how the Tritons value their strategy as opposed to their physical abilities.

    “We have been using our fall season to perfect our technique and aerobic base,” Hansen said. “When traveling to races, we are often seen as the ‘New York City Skyline Crew’ because we are all different shapes and sizes, unlike most of the other schools, who are usually all really tall and super powerful. [Head coach Pattie Pinkerton] always tells us that it is likely that the other schools would be able to out-power us, but that we can win by out-rowing them so we spend a lot of time perfecting our stroke to get the most power out of it.”

    According to Hansen, the day’s success was a result of the rowers’ abilities to trust each other.

    “Our team this year is cohesive and unified, which is so important to crew because in order to push yourself to work harder during a race, you need to be able to trust that the girl sitting in front and behind you is working just as hard,” she said. “I’m really excited that we were able to reach this in the early part of the season, giving us the rest of the year to perfect it.”

    The women’s novice-eight teams also raced against Chapman, this time earning second- and third-place finishes. The A boat was six seconds shy of Chapman’s finish at 20:23. Still, Pinkerton was proud of the Tritons’ event race, especially given how most colleges have head starts as semester schools.

    “The schools we raced against had been racing a lot more,” Pinkerton said. “For the rowers to go out and attack one of our early races, they did a terrific job. The fact that our novices finished very close to Chapman was awesome.”

    Also looking strong was the men’s team, as the collegiate eight A and B teams posted times of 14:32 and 14:36, respectively. According to senior co-captain Ryan Andre, the team has a new outlook and approach to training from last season.

    “Last year we rushed the beginning of our season a little too much,” Andre said. “This year we are starting back at the fundamentals and working a lot on perfecting the simple things that make boats move. I think that mentally, we are taking a more mature approach to the fall season by sacrificing some of our fall races in order to invest in being faster this spring.”

    Andre said he believes that the team’s new dynamic will be beneficial this season.

    “We have an unusually hard-working group of guys this year who really just want to outwork each other and have fun doing it,” Andre said. “We also have a lot of depth in terms of maturity. We have a handful of guys on the team who are the kind of level-headed individuals that lead by example and are comfortable with being leaders. There is no pushing people along to do work this year; it’s all internal with this group.”

    Indeed, spring season will be the most exciting time for the Triton rowers, presenting some exciting opportunities for both teams. For Andre, that excitement includes the prospect of competing in the national championships, held in Rancho Cordova, Calif., this year.

    “The rowing community is making a concerted effort to include West-Coast rowing to a more fair degree in the national championship this year,” Andre said. “As a result of that, UCSD has an exciting opportunity to debut this year at the national championship regatta if we perform to our potential. Rowing is the oldest collegiate sport, and as such has been monitored by the old East Coast Ivies. Yet for the first time this year, in over 100 years of competition, the West Coast will host the national championship regatta.”

    Last year, the women’s team experienced that honor when they placed second in the Grand Finals.

    “We’ve been working really hard on improving our technique and our power application for this fall,” Pinkerton said. “Everybody’s technique improved, and that is very important for crew. It looks like we are moving along right where we want to be because we want to earn a trip back to nationals.”

    It seems the Tritons are off to a solid start.

    “I’m looking forward to our spring season and getting to finally see our competition,” Hansen said. “I’m also looking forward to seeing the transformations the other girls are going to have. There is something about your third year of rowing when everything just sort of clicks. I definitely felt it last year and since we have quite a few third-years this year, I can’t wait to see the sorts of transformations everyone is going to have.”

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