This post is a few days later than I wanted, and will likely be the last for the current iteration of the website. We will be doing some upgrades both cosmetically and on the backend, hopefully to be completed by the end of the month.
Lake Lanier – Gainesville, GA – upper 80s to 90s with Thunderstorms – Buoys + Stakes
After a long and grueling season the Aggies brought their best down to Gainesville for the ACRA Championship Regatta. As mentioned previously, this would be a historically significant one with opportunities to see both the fastest V8 in decades, the first full novice eight in years, and a 2V8 looking for a third straight grand final appearance.
Day 1 - Time Trial Morning
To kick things off, UMass sent out the V8 for a time trial. Top 16 boats would advance to the A/B semifinal with the remainder to a C/D final. Conditions were great, aside from a boat that waked the top 10 crews, but they pushed onwards nonetheless. UMass edged out a 4th place finish, a hair ahead of BC and only 3.1 seconds off of 2nd place. This would be the best start to ACRA for the V8 ever.
The 2V8 time trial would follow, with all crews heading to an A/B semi, where UMass finished 6th (6:00.0), just behind BC and UNC and just 0.4 seconds ahead of Washington State. In a very strange turn of events, #1 ranked Virginia would finish 9th, opening opportunities for UMass, UNC, BC and Notre Dame to make a run at that top spot against Michigan and UCSB.
The N8 continued this strong showing in the time trials, tying BC and Minnesota for a 9th place finish, all with a time of 6:05.4. With all three eights breaking the top 10, UMass propelled the program into the afternoon with high spirits.
The N4 followed one event later with a 19th place finish, just a few seconds off VA Commonwealth and Vanderbilt. Although they didn't break top 10, this was a solid finish for a crew that underwent some significant lineup and coaching changes throughout the season. Props to Jene and her band of idiots (to take a page out of the 2004 Red Sox's book) for their display of resilience and fight over the course of the year!
Day 1- Semifinal Afternoon
The V8 improved upon an already fantastic start with a 3rd place showing in the first semifinal. Top 4 crews advance to the grand final, marking this the first year a UMass V8 has made the grands at ACRA ever! Led by sophomore Yara Akkeh, freshman Joseph Wenzel, and anchored by grizzled veterans Jake Savona and George "P.I." Meltzer, the V8 mixed both old and young to have a stellar crew.
The 2V8 continued this trend by making their third straight grand final, coming in 3rd just behind UCSB and Notre Dame. Despite being riddled with injuries, the 2V8 launched off the line, holding onto 1st place as long as they could before UCSB and ND turned up the heat towards the end.
The N8 finished 7th, which initially may seem disappointing, but they only finished 6 seconds out of 3rd place, with some very fast crews in between them. This freshman class has displayed extreme potential and will make next year a real treat to witness.
The N4 finished exactly 1 second off of Colorado in their C final, with a respectable 4th place finish. Again, this boat had seen it all and looks towards next year with potential on their side.
Day 2 - The Finals
The N8 finished 5th in their B final, 3.624 seconds off those pesky Minnesota freshmen. It will be interesting to see how they fare next year, anchored by one of the fastest freshmen in recent years, Kedar "Stop Talking About That Time I Single-Handedly Stopped a Knife Attack on a Bus" Seetal.
The 2V8 also finished 7th, beating their initial seed by 1 and only 3 seconds off their place last year. Their finish felt much like the end to the Celtics season, one marked by overcoming some spectacular setbacks. At one point this year, the boat had only 2 healthy bodies. Here's to 2019, and going for 4 straight appearances!
To cap it off, the V8 decided to also finish 7th. The Aggies finished just over half a second behind a top 5 finish, just a smidge off of Orange Coast and Notre Dame. For a first grand final showing ever, a new page in UMass history was written, with high hopes for the next few years as the program looks to get even faster.
Overall, it was an amazing end to an amazing season. 5th and 7th place finishes to the top three crews in their respective finals, 2 grand final showings, and some serious runs at some serious money for a very serious program looking only to get more serious next year. To all 12 of our graduating seniors, and our assistant coach Tom Siddall, thank you very much for all you've done. This senior class had the opportunity to do something very special and they did: graduate as the best and largest senior class in recent memory while also recruiting the best and biggest freshman class in as many years.
Here's to another year of spectacular racing!
Eight Time Trials