Q & A with Washington's Matt Kopicky
May 5, 2005
The Washington men's and women's rowing teams host the annual Windermere Cup regatta, Saturday, May 7. Racing begins at 10:20 a.m. on the Montlake Cut. The Huskies are joined by elite competition from Cornell University and the national teams from the Czech Republic.
The Windermere Cup is a spectacle unrivaled in collegiate crew. It is among the premier regattas in the sport of rowing with thousands of spectators lining both sides of the course for its entire 2,000-meter length.
Senior Matt Kopicky (Seattle, Wash. / Ballard HS) rows in Washington's undefeated junior varsity eight crew. He spent a few minutes with GoHuskies.com, talking about the season and describing his thoughts on the upcoming Windermere Cup.
GoHuskies.com: How has the season been going so far?
Matt Kopicky: 'Like usual, everybody is working hard. We're making changes to try and go faster and we're going to find the right equation at some point. It's just a matter of the right chemistry I guess.'
GoHuskies.com: How has the junior varsity crew gone undefeated despite all the changes?
MK: 'There's always a jayvee mentality of going out and trying to really work together. We know that we don't have the horse power, so we're willing to bounce ideas off each other and talk amongst the boat to find something that works.'
GoHuskies.com: Is it difficult when there's is new personnel in the boat almost every week?
MK: 'It's pretty tough, but all of us want the varsity to win. So we're willing to do what it takes. It makes it tough and it makes us clue the other person in on what we're working on and how we can build off that. That way the new person can impact our boat positively.'
GoHuskies.com: What are your thoughts about Saturday's Windermere Cup regatta?
MK: 'It's huge. I grew up here in the Northwest and I got to row Windermere Cup twice in high school. I loved it and it's great. I'm excited that we have Cornell's varsity and jayvee coming out, so it's going to be good competition all around. And we're hoping for sunshine.'
GoHuskies.com: How do you prepare to row against a team, like Cornell, that you don't know very much about?
MK: 'Those are the races that I get the most nervous for, like Cal this year. We hadn't raced them although we had a little gauge from the Windermere Crew Classic in San Francisco. You have to trust your race plan and trust your speed.'
GoHuskies.com: What was it like the first time you competed in the Windermere Cup?
MK: 'My first race was back in 2000. I was rowing for Green Lake and we were undefeated at that point and Marin (Calif.) was coming up, another junior crew. We didn't know their speed at all. So we went out and launched and there were boats everywhere and it was pretty crazy. I just tried to put blinders on and focus on the race. There was like three foot swells at the starting line, but luckily we settled in by Fox Point and we were able to pull it out. It was an exciting race.'
GoHuskies.com: How did that compare to your first Windermere Cup as a Husky?
MK: 'In the junior event, which was with high school crews, the races are a little bit closer. My freshman and sophomore years in races, by the time we got to the cut the races were pretty much over. With the junior crew though, it's five boats across going under the bridge, so it was a good race and people were cheering.'
GoHuskies.com: What makes Windermere Cup such a unique event?
MK: 'I think the way the community embraces it makes it the event that it is. And definitely Windermere and the way that they put it on and their relentless effort to satisfy the community. And then the people Coach Ernst brings in to race against. So the fans, the crews there and hopefully the sunshine.'
GoHuskies.com: Is it unique because of the narrowness of the venue?
MK: 'It's definitely a race unlike others. In the last 500 meters, the sprint, you're usually motivated by your coxwain, but when you come through the cut, you can't hear your coxwain. You're rowing on emotion and the fans are what drives you.'
GoHuskies.com: Will it be a tough transition going from Windermere Cup to the Pac-10 Championship in one week's time?
MK: 'The only thing that will make it difficult is if we try to make any adjustments. We're hoping to find some lineups that will move quick and that we can build off for later races. So that will be the only tough adjustment.'
GoHuskies.com: You are in a stretch of four consecutive weeks against elite competition. Do you like racing every week or would you prefer to have some time off between races?
MK: 'We'd be training hard anyway. We're training through a lot of these weeks. We might taper for a day, but we're focusing on the first week in June. It's always fun to go and test our speed. We race between varsity and jayvee all the time, but it's fun go out and race against another opponent.'