The 2018 Princeton heavyweight season opens Saturday morning with a four-boat regatta on Lake Carnegie. The Tigers, who have built themselves into a perennial national contender over the last several years, will welcome Drexel, George Washington and Georgetown to Princeton for the season opener Saturday morning.
Princeton has raced Georgetown during the opening weekend over the last several years, and the two teams have returned to the water in the afternoon for additional racing as teams gear up for the season. That will be same format this weekend, but head coach Greg Hughes is excited to add two more teams into the mix.
“Multiple boats push an entire race,” Hughes said. “There are way less margins in a race like this. It will make for an exciting morning.”
Hughes hopes it also is the start of an exciting year for a Princeton team that has medaled four straight years at Sprints, and then placed in the top four at IRAs each of those seasons as well. This Tiger team has taken on the personality of its senior captain Augustin Wambersie, which Hughes believes will serve it well during the long journey towards IRAs.
“Augustin is a quiet, strong leader, and his attitude is always great,” said Hughes, who enters his ninth season as heavyweight head coach. “He has a maturity that allows him to understand that, when you have a good day, there is plenty more to come. When it’s not the best day, he can stay clear-minded, keep things simple, know what needs to be fixed and get to work on it.”
Hughes has seen that level of focus throughout the team, which dealt with as many illnesses and injuries as Hughes can remember during a challenging 2017 season. Those obstacles have strengthened this group, which has kept its attention on the team and trying to create as many fast boats as possible.
While depth has been a strength for Princeton recently — the Tigers have won two of the last three Rowe Cup points titles — the Ivy League and IRA national titles go to the top 1V boats in the nation, and Hughes recognizes just how much speed there is likely to be among the top teams this spring. Yale is the three-time reigning Sprints/Ivy League champion, and it ended a 12-year Western run at the IRA Championships last year.
The Pac-12 powers will be as fast as ever, and the Ivy League/EARC continues to get deeper, but Hughes believes there is plenty to be excited about in his own boathouse. Returners like Tom George, Tim Livingstone and Andy LeRoux — among several others from the 2017 1V and 2V crews — give the Tigers the type of top-end speed to be a national contender.
But Hughes has been involved with rowing long enough to know it takes much more than that.
“Rowing is the ultimate team sport,” he said. “Nobody can just step up and have a 40-point game. It doesn’t work that way. We can’t call in a sub during a race.”
That’s why the focus on team has been exciting to Hughes, because he knows fast boats enhance each other, and competition drives improvement. He has seen the growth throughout the long winter and preseason, and he is excited to see it in competition, both this week and beyond.
Saturday’s races, as well as the Childs Cup (April 7) and Content Cup (April 28), are set to be streamed live on the Ivy League Network. The full home racing schedule for Saturday can be found below.
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