UCLA Women's Rowing to Open Spring Season on Sunday
LOS ANGELES – The UCLA women's rowing program returns to action against crosstown rival USC on Sunday, March 13 in the Bruins' first competition of the spring season.
Sunday's races will kick off the first of five spring rowing competitions for the Bruins, before they had north to Oregon on May 15 for the annual Pac-12 Championships. This season's conference championship regatta will take place at Dexter Lake, approximately 15 miles from Eugene, Ore.
The Bruins' races this Sunday will begin at 7:45 a.m. and continue through the varsity eight race, scheduled for 8:45 a.m.
Under the direction of interim head coach Previn Chandraratna, the Bruins are excited and optimistic and determined to make their 2022 spring racing campaign a memorable one.
"I think one of the most exciting parts of this team is our youth and our potential," said Chandraratna, who enters his seventh season as a coach with UCLA's program. "The majority of the core members of this team are not seniors. We feel like the future is bright and this should serve as a strong season to help us build a foundation. We need to establish our culture and our process, because we have a lot of student-athletes who are new to campus."
UCLA returns multiple rowers from the top varsity boats last season, including Olivia Caesar, Rosemary Varney, Sara Mittman, Ellen Ulitsky, Irene Ulitsky, Lucy Holgate and Paula Jaramillo.
In addition to several strong veteran rowers, the Bruins have added several student-athletes who could not compete in 2021 due to international travel restrictions (related to the COVID-19 pandemic). Those international student-athletes are now on UCLA's campus for the first time as college students.
"We have several sophomores, more like redshirt freshmen, who were not allowed in the country during the previous school year and they will be asked to take on some leadership roles," Chandraratna said. "Those roles need to be established. As a whole, I couldn't ask for a better group to work with, in terms of their eagerness to absorb this new information as we move our program forward."
Several of those redshirt freshmen include Olivia Hay, Jade Raby and Polly Wenlock – a trio of student-athletes from New Zealand – as well as Emily Sutherland, from Australia. Those student-athletes could certainly push for roles in the team's top two varsity eight crews.
UCLA returns a pair of talented coxswains with juniors Sofia Papini and Sydney Page. Papini served as the Bruins' coxswain in the varsity eight last season, while Page coxed the team's second varsity eight. Neither Papini nor Page saw significant action as freshmen in 2019-20, as the COVID-19 pandemic cut short the Bruins' entire season.
"Sofia and Sydney make a tremendous double threat for us, leading those two boats," Chandraratna said.
As for what to look for and focus on this Sunday, the excitement level should be high. UCLA finished ahead of USC in a dual meet last season and at Pac-12 Championships in May. The two programs also raced against each other in an early May competition with Stanford.
"Our focus is on our internal dynamics," Chadraratna said. "We are just trying to deliver the best product that we can put on the water. Rowing can feel like an offensive or defensive sport, but it's just a speed sport. You've got to go as fast as you can, and we are going to try and do that."
ABOUT UCLA'S BOATHOUSE: For fans looking to attend Sunday morning's races, spectators should use the public parking lot adjacent to Whiskey Red's at the end of Fiji Way. If parking there is not available, spectators are encouraged to park at the free lot near Dock 52 – approximately a 10 to 15 minute walk from the Bruins' boathouse.
The address at Ballona Creek is 14001 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey, zip code 90292.
FOLLOWING THE RACES: UCLA and USC will conclude the morning's races with the presentation of the Amy Fuller Kearney-Lori Guerrero Azbill Trophy. This trophy will be awarded each season to the winner of the crosstown showdown (in the UCLA-USC city dual meet). The Bruins' program will also recognize its seniors with a special "Senior Day" ceremony. UCLA will honor its five seniors – Sarah Coufal, Danielle Hoekstra, Lucy Holgate, Paula Jaramillo and Tasha Strudwick.
SCHEDULE: Races will begin at 7:45 a.m. with the Bruins racing a fourth varsity eight crew. The third varsity eight race will take place at 8 a.m., followed by the varsity four at 8:15 a.m., the second varsity eight at 8:30 a.m., and the varsity eight at 8:45 a.m.
After Sunday's races, the Bruins will return to action at the two-day San Diego Crew Classic (Mission Bay) on Saturday, March 26 and Sunday, March 27.