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Big Row Set For Oakland Estuary

Apr 22, 2021

Pick a reason why Saturday's races on the Oakland Estuary are important.

  • It's the Big Row against Stanford
  • The Bears will honor Jill Costello, as they do annually in the Big Row
  • Cal will be racing on the Oakland Estuary for the first time in 25 years
  • It will be the Bears' last competition before their showdown with Washington the following week

There's a lot to get excited about as the Cal women's rowing team hosts Stanford for four races – three varsity eights and a varsity four – beginning at 8:30 a.m. The event is closed to the general public due to COVID-19 health protocols.

Cal head coach Al Acosta is spending this week doing what he does every week leading up to the Big Row – reading letters to his athletes from former teammates of Costello, the former Golden Bear coxswain who passed away after a battle with lung cancer at the age of 22 in 2010.

"I didn't know Jill but when I got here I thought it was important to keep her legacy going and try to figure out a way to make sure your younger rowers understand what it all means," Acosta said.

Cal's men's rowing team raced on the estuary last weekend, also for the first time in 25 years. While the men ran just one singular varsity eight race, it will be a full slate of competition this Saturday.

The Bears opened the season two weeks ago at the Las Vegas Invitational, where their top two varsity eights swept races over Washington State, San Diego, Alabama and USC.

"I think we are beginning to row with a little more confidence than Las Vegas," Acosta said. "That was the first time they had raced in a year and a half. The training has been pretty good from Las Vegas until now. Our training has been a little more geared toward racing. We should feel a little more comfortable and confident."

In the Bears' quick, shortened season, they will follow Saturday's races with their trip to Seattle to take on Washington, and that will be it before the Pac-12 Championships on May 16 on Lake Natoma.

"The real sense of urgency is the selection process, and trying to figure out who is going to be in which boats," Acosta said. "That's what the kids are most wound up about – getting the opportunity to compete in the boat they want to compete in. Beyond that, they know it gets more and more difficult as the season progresses. But I think right now, people are just trying to get into a boat. Their opportunities are very limited."