Washington’s reigning national titlists, who’ve won three of the last five crowns in the men’s championship eights, will be bidding on Sunday afternoon to become the first collegiate boat to repeat since Navy won its fourth in a row in 1983.
The Huskies, who displaced Harvard last year after a 10-second buoy penalty was overturned, again will be challenged by the Crimson as well as archrival California in what figures to be a reprise of last season’s IRA championship with Northeastern, Brown, and Princeton also in pursuit.
Two elite boats from both France and the Netherlands also will be in the mix as well as Melbourne University. US Rowing, which last won in 2007, is bringing a boat loaded with global medalists but they’ll be starting 26th after last year’s collision with Washington saddled them with three minutes’ worth of interference penalties and dropped them to last place.
“No one complained,” said regatta executive director Fred Schoch. “I give them credit, they’re taking their medicine like real men.”
The US women’s eight, which won the gold medal at this summer’s world championships, will be a decided favorite to repeat after beating the Great Eight last year on a buoy penalty. This year’s Great Eight, an assemblage of the planet’s best scullers, will be stroked by two-time Olympic sweep gold medalist Elle Logan of Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
A record performance
With calm water and an assisting wind out of the south-southwest, records dropped faster than cash at the vendors’ registers. Leading the 20 record-setters was 51-year-old Gregory Benning of the host Cambridge Boat Club in the grand master men’s singles 50-plus race. He destroyed the course record by 39 seconds, winning in 18:15.87 to wipe out Lawrence Klecatsky’s mark of 18:54.3 set in 1992.
“Under normal conditions, that would win a medal in the championship singles,’’ said Schoch. “But these were extremely fast conditions.”
Also setting a record was Cambridge Boat Club’s Saiya Remmler in the grand master women’s singles 50-plus. Her winning time of 20:35.91 beat the 2012 mark of 20:54.24 by Lynn Jennings.
Marin Rowing Association set a pair of course records in the senior master eights. The men won in 15:29.87, bettering the previous mark of 15:43.49 held by Team Attager, and the women won in 17:35.75 to top the previous mark of 17:44.45, also held by Marin.
The senior master men’s fours from Cambridge Boat Club broke Toronto Sculling Club’s 10-year-old record (17:15.52) by almost 18 seconds, winning in 17:07.6. The senior master women’s fours from Marin set a record, too, smashing Watercat Rowing Club’s mark of 19:48.39 by nearly 33 seconds with a winning time of 19:15.81.
Kendall reclaims crown
Richard Kendall (a.k.a. Old Man River) reclaimed his customary title, outclocking customary rival Christopher Collins by more than 25 seconds to win the grand veterans event for his 12th crown. “I didn’t break a rib and I didn’t carve my initials in the course,” declared the ageless 83-year-old, who was slowed last year after fracturing a rib while reaching for a Yuengling porter as he was easing into a bathtub after a training session. This time Kendall placed eighth in a senior veterans field of 43 septuagenarians and their elders. “It was worth a few beers at the end,” he concluded . . . The double of Dulguun Baasandavaa and Tuvshinzaya Gantulga, who made history as Mongolia’s first competitors in a rowing event, finished an understandable last among 18 entries in the men’s championship double but covered the course dry and undamaged. Baasandavaa and Gantulga, who learned to row as collegians in the States, hadn’t been in a boat together until they arrived here a fortnight ago . . . The Alte Achter, who’d pondered calling it a career after their 40th anniversary row last year, were back for another spin, finishing in the penultimate place in the 45-boat senior master eights field. “We still have no common sense,” observed Gene Clapp, whose seatmates from the 1972 Olympic silver medal crew outrowed the Nonesuch Oar & Paddle Club, an agglomeration of overfed former Crimson lightweights, for AARP-member bragging rights around Newell Boathouse.
Gregg Stone of Newton and the Cambridge Boat Club won the grand master men’s singles, starting in the second slot and finishing in 19:35.52 seconds.
“It was a beautiful day for a row, absolutely flat, calm, a little breeze but not much, and a nice temperature,’’ said Stone, 61. “Us old guys have been racing each other for a long time, off and on. I had a great row. Al Flanders, who started first, he’s a great competitor and just wasn’t quite as fast this year, so I just gained on him steadily and it went pretty well.’’
Stone, who had hoped to bookend family victories with his daughter, US Olympian sculler Gevvie Stone, who finished second in the women’s championship singles, said his ride was smooth. “No drama,’’ he said, chuckling. “We’re old and they’re singles, we don’t move fast enough to get ourselves in trouble.’’
Tangled up in blue
There was, however, trouble for Schoch, who raced in the senior master men’s eights with Team Attager.
As Schoch described it, they had a “shipwreck” off Magazine Beach.
“We were trying to be aggressive and we were hugging the buoy line and it was my oar that caught a buoy,’’ Schoch said. “The buoys are connected to a very thin, like-waistband elastic so that they adjust to the water height, and it wrapped around my oar several times and I simply couldn’t get it off.’’
Coxswain Richard Grossman had to stop the boat, and Schoch said by the time they got untangled, they had lost 25 seconds.
“It always too bad, but it’s racing,’’ said Schoch, “and we’ll come back next year with a vengeance.’’
Globe correspondent Barbara Matson contributed to this report.