Bears Battle Huskies In Seattle
The Cal men's rowing team will undergo its most accurate test yet to see where it stands in the national landscape when it travels to Seattle for its annual dual against Washington on Saturday.
The Bears have gone undefeated in all races against UC San Diego, Santa Clara, Oregon State and Stanford so far this season, but the Huskies are a traditional standard-bearer in collegiate rowing and have won 12 of the past 13 overall IRA national championships.
"The Cal-Washington dual is always a focal point on our racing calendar, so just looking forward to getting back up there and having some great racing," Cal head coach Scott Frandsen said.
While sweeping every race, the Bears have also tried out different combinations in boats to try to find the optimal lineups for the most important races. Saturday begins the most vital and final stretch of the season, as Cal meets Washington, competes at the Pac-12 Championships before finally moving on to the IRA national championships.
"This first race against Washington will definitely be a gauge of where we are at for May 1," Frandsen said. "It's a pretty important marker."
Senior Brett Cataldo continues to sit in the coxswain seat for the Bears' varsity eight while the remainder of the boat is a combination of veterans and new faces. Freshman Frederik Breuer, who won a gold medal in the coxed four at the 2019 U19 World Championships, will serve as stroke while graduate transfer Wibout Rustenburg sits behind him in the 7-seat. Meanwhile, senior mainstays George Finlayson, Jack Robertson and Cameron Smith are also in the varsity eight, along with 2019 second varsity eight national champion Olav Molenaar.
This year's dual at Washington is also serving as the main event for the Windemere Cup, an annual event in Seattle on the first Saturday of May that celebrates the opening day of boating season. It typically features many races from different levels and draws thousands of fans, and usually includes at least one national team from abroad. Due to COVID-19, the traditional festivities surrounding the event were canceled, and it was turned into arguably the biggest rivalry competition in collegiate rowing.
"The rivalry between our two programs makes both programs better," Frandsen said. "In doing so, in the last few decades, our two programs have generally set the standard for collegiate rowing across the country."