Delaware Men's Crew

The offical website of the University of Delaware Men's Crew

Spring 2024 Recap: Speed and Toughness

5 min read

An official commentator at the Dad Vail Regatta this spring described UDMC crews as “tough”. The Oxford Dictionary defines “tough: able to endure hardship or pain.” UDMC’s evident toughness was earned from the mileage UDMC pulled over the winter. Another commentator described the team as “rowdy” , a term of endearment from the early 19th century, originally a “lawless backwoodsman.”

The team’s culture has often been one of underdog, out-performing expectations. One objective observation from the spring season was improvement and increasing speed relative to other ACRA crews, as seen in the meteoric rise in CMAX polls, jumping about 10 seconds faster in the final weeks of the season.  Delaware planted its flag and was on the radar of many teams concerned about how much faster Delaware was going to be for the championship races. UDMC also had depth with a highly competitive 2V8, referred to as the “crown jewel” of the team.

The team kicked off the spring campaign on the last weekend of March with a dual scrimmage against Lehigh up in Allentown, PA. The first taste of sprint racing set the stage for an action-packed season. UDMC continued to gain speed, and by mid-April, it was time for the George Washington Invitational. Three Varsity eights as well as a Novice eight made its way down to the Potomac to face off against teams including George Washington, Bucknell, and Washington State. The 1V8 faced George Washington and UNC, finishing 6 seconds off of George Washington but 1.5 seconds ahead of UNC. The 2V8 raced Bucknell finishing 5 seconds off them. The 3V8 as well as the Novice 8 raced in competitive fields, finishing seconds shy of the top boats. The second day of racing at the GW Invitational was canceled due to high winds.

The following weekend, the team drove down to Oak Ridge, Tennessee to race in the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Regatta (SIRA). A total of four boats were set to race against a field of competitive crews. All boats had a time trial to determine who they would race in the semi-finals. The 1V8 finished 3rd in their semi-final, 10 seconds behind Notre Dame and 3 seconds behind Jacksonville University, placing them into the B Final. The 2V8 in their respective semi-final, placed 2nd, 5 seconds behind Virginia, securing a place in the A Final. The Novice 8 finished 4th in their semi-final, 3 seconds shy of a berth to the A Final. The Novice 4 placed 6th in their field, placing them into the B Final. The final day of racing boasted impressive results.

The 1V8 placed 3rd in the B Final, having a photo finish with Mercyhurst. The 2V8 finished 4th in the A Final, also having a photo finish with Jacksonville, coming 0.8 seconds off of them. The Novice 8 won their B Final and the Novice 4 placed 4th in their B Final.

Following SIRA, UDMC focused on three intense weeks of preparation for Dad Vails, anticipating competition that has never been stronger. Five UDMC entries were entered for the renowned regatta: two Varsity eights, a Novice eight, a Novice four, and a Varsity double. In the semi-finals, the 1V faced top East Coast competition including Temple, St.Joes, Jacksonville, and Lehigh. The Fightin’ Blue Hens placed 3rd, edged out by St.Joes by less than an eighth of a second. The 2V also faced stiff competition in their field, racing against Temple, Drexel, Jacksonville, and Marietta in their semi-final. They placed 4th, just 5 seconds off of Jacksonville. The Novice 8 won a silver medal in the Grand Final, and the Novice 4 placed 3rd in the C Final. In the Alumni Eight event, UDMC took home a gold medal beating out Temple, Drexel, and St.Joes. The Varsity double, comprised of walk-ons Zack Griffin and Domenic DiUbaldo, found their rhythm and secured 1st place in the B Final. In the Petite Final, the 2V battled Embry-Riddle, finishing 2nd by a mere 2 seconds. The 1V’s Petite Final featured a packed field including Colgate, Jacksonville, Florida Tech, Stetson, and Marietta. The 1V placed 5th, but was within striking distance of the first-place finisher, Colgate, by 5 seconds.

It was a quick turnaround for the crew as they returned to Oak Ridge, TN, for the American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA) National Championship Regatta. UDMC competed in four fields: First Varsity Eight, Second Varsity Eight, Novice Four, and the Varsity Double. With injuries and conflicts, the Novice 8 did not row ACRAs. All boats raced in time trials. In the semi-finals, the 1V8 was packed in with Notre Dame, Virginia, Orange Coast, and Michigan. It was a 5th place finish for them which had them competing in the Petite Final the next day. The 2V8’s semi-final was equally competitive, featuring Virginia, Notre Dame, Minnesota, George Washington, and Bucknell. Through it all, the 2V8 finished in 2nd, 4 seconds behind Virginia, giving them a spot in the Grand Final. The Novice Four had a 2nd place finish in the D Final, and the Varsity Double also placed 2nd in their D Final.

All boats were strong in the third 500 meters and sprints. Sunday at ACRA brought about some good racing. For the 2V8, their Grand Final was made up of Virginia, Michigan, Purdue, UCLA, and Notre Dame. Ultimately, in the end, the 2V8 placed 5th overall, half a second off UCLA, just 3 seconds out of the medals. In the 1V8’s petite final, they placed 4th, having them finish 10th overall ahead of Bucknell and Washington State, just 2 seconds behind Michigan, putting them in a good position for a year of training to build on this result.

With the conclusion of the 2024 spring season, junior oarsman Brett Weber shared his remarks on the season, “This past spring was a great building block for the program, finishing top 10 in the ACRA poll after not being mentioned all season. The future looks bright for the team as a whole and I believe we’ll be back at the top in the years to come.” As the team heads into summer, individual training will take over until the team returns to campus in late August with novices stepping up to varsity plus seven recruited high school oarsmen to join the ranks.

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