The two-time defending Ivy League champion Princeton open rowing team will face a major early test Saturday morning when the Tigers open their 2018 season Saturday morning on Lake Carnegie against both Brown and Michigan during the annual Class of 1987 Cup regatta.
Princeton went 11-0 last season and claimed its fourth Ivy League title in the last five years, but it also had a tough weekend at the NCAA Championships, a memory that certainly served to inspire the program over the last nine months. Fifteen of the 20 rowers that experienced both the highs and lows of the 2017 postseason, as well as two of the three coxswains, are back for the Tigers, who understand that there are plenty of improvements to be made throughout their always-challenging spring season before anybody can think about the Ivy or NCAA Championships.
Those challenges will begin at 9 am Saturday morning when the Tigers host both Brown and Michigan on Lake Carnegie for the Class of 1987 Cup regatta. Racing officially start with B&C Fours at 9 am, while the 1V8s will compete at 10 am. The full schedule for weekend home racing, which includes a heavyweight regatta, can be found below. The link for the live video stream can be found above.
The Tigers return six rowers from the Ivy-winning varsity eight last season, including senior Isabella Nappa, a member of Princeton’s last two title-winning boats. She felt both the highs and lows of the 2018 postseason, and she believes both will benefit this team moving forward.
“Winning Ivies in such an exciting race and then falling short at NCAAs has been incredibly motivating for me as an individual and for the team as a whole,” said Nappa, a sociology major from Providence. “There is no doubt that NCAAs was a disappointment, but it was also a really valuable experience in that it gave us the maturity that we needed to realize that we have to shift our focus to the big picture. No one at that level is just going to hand you a trophy.
“That experience has made us acutely aware of the importance of every stroke and given us a single-mindedness and tenacity that really makes me excited to test our speed,” Nappa added. “I am looking at each practice and race as a steppingstone to the ultimate goal and a chance to rewrite that ending.”
The ending — a trip to Sarasota, Fla., for the 2018 NCAA Championships — is more than two months away, and Princeton knows that simply qualifying is a challenge in a sport that has grown at the impressive rate that open rowing has. A strong performance against two teams that finished above them at NCAAs (Michigan finished third, Brown finished eighth, Princeton finished 10th) would provide a strong early foundation for the Tigers moving forward.
This has been a close rivalry, especially recently. Both programs have won three of the last six meetings, and Princeton was able to end a three-race losing streak to the Bears last year by a tight 2.4 seconds on Lake Carnegie in the 2017 season opener. You can see the full history of the rivalry here.
Nappa and her senior classmates will have the opportunity to compete early and often on their beloved Lake Carnegie, as Princeton will compete in each of its first four weeks at home, including the new Ivy League Invitational on April 7 (more information on that to come in later weeks). A trip to Virginia on April 21 is the lone road competition before the postseason, which opens at Cooper River May 13 for the Ivy League Championships.
All home races are set to be streamed live on the Ivy League Network. Links will be provided each week, as well as the full home race schedule on Lake Carnegie.
WEEKEND RACING SCHEDULE
Heavyweight Men vs. Drexel, George Washington, Georgetown
8 am • First Varsity
8:15 am • Second Varsity
8:30 am • Third Varsity
(note that there will be smaller races throughout the hour, as well as later in the afternoon)
Open Women vs. Brown, Michigan
9 am • B&C Fours
9:20 am • A Fours
9:40 am • Second Varsity
10 am • First Varsity (Class of 1987 Cup)
10:20 am • Third Varsity