Have you ever been to a crew regatta?

How about the best one that our country has to offer?

Whether you follow rowing or not, you’re going to want to hear what went down this morning…

My school, the University of Washington, is currently the four time defending IRA National Champion. Five straight championships has never been done.

So, you could say that this season is a very important, very stressful one.

Satellite imagery of the Montlake Cut in Seattle, WA. All of those little white dots are boats that are lined up on the race course. The tiny slivers are the boats that the crews row around.

UW has such a renowned, world-class rowing program that they race against the world’s best competition regularly. Earlier on this season, they swept Brown University in a series of head-to-head races; they beat out some stiff conference competition at the Stanford Invitational; and last year they beat the likes of Yale, Princeton, and Cambridge last year at the Head of the Charles Regatta.

And next weekend they’ll match up against the U-23 Olympic national team from New Zealand, which is commonly known as a power player in the world of rowing.

So, yes. They’re quite good.

They’re also the team from the famous book, The Boys in the Boat, in which the 1936 Olympic team filled with loggers and other blue collar worker-students from UW beat Nazi Germany in the Olympics to take home gold.

The 1936 Olympic rowing team AKA “The Boys in the Boat”.

This morning, the Huskies raced against their biggest rival: the California Golden Bears.

Going into the races this morning, the Huskies were ranked #1 in the country with the Golden bears trailing close behind them at #2. This weekend has been circled for many months on many calendars across the world.

Although I’d been to a couple regattas before to cover them for my newspaper, I hadn’t been to one like this.

This regatta was different.

Because this rivalry stretches back all the way to 1903, with UW leading the all-time series 73–29–1, this was going to be a competitive day of racing. But, because this crew instead of another sport like, say football, there was a feeling of dignified tradition oozing from the crowd.

I was surrounded by people who were alumni of the two schools, current students, rowing nerds, and classy people who actually keep track of the crew scene in this country. Needless to say, I wasn’t attending a typical tailgate surrounded by beer and screaming people.

No, this was a seriously cool tradition that I was thrilled to be a part of.

While the actual outcomes of the races didn’t exactly turn out the way I would’ve liked them to, I still enjoyed myself.

The Golden Bears were able to beat the Huskies for the first time in eight years. It was time to finally let them have one, I guess…

Photo by author

After all of the races were finished up, there was a ceremony at the back at the boathouse for all of the athletes. The UW women’s rowing head coach made a speech that depicted the importand significance of the races that were held today.

Many cheers were cheered; claps were clapped; and hands were shook.

Despite the enormous deal that the regatta was made out to be, athletes from both teams were very gracious after the regatta and were actually talking to each other quite cordially. It was like a huge bro-fest! All these huge, 6–6 dudes were out talking to each other about God knows what — probably just rowing.

It was really admirable.

If I had just lost the biggest match of the season to my biggest rival, I probably wouldn’t be able to have a friendly chat with them afterward.

Those crew guys are bigger than me in more ways than one.

The Rating: 68/100

Pro: I really enjoyed seeing these incredible athletes put it all on the line to win. The ambiance of the entire event was super cool too.

Con: I had to get up pretty darn early, stand around in some mediocre weather, and watch a below-average spectator sport. Plus, my team lost.

About me:

My name is Jack Russillo and I’m a college freshman who just moved to the big city (Seattle) from a small town in the middle of nowhere. Every day I rate something on a scale of 1 to 100.

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