The third-ranked Princeton women’s lightweights know how historic the Class of 1999 Cup is for their program, and they were disappointed not to keep it at the Shea Rowing Center this year.
Of course, if they can return this Sunday with the EAWRC Lightweight Eight Trophy, that disappointment will be long forgotten.
Princeton fell last Saturday by 10 seconds to top-ranked Radcliffe in the 16th renewal of the Class of 1999 Cup regatta. The Crimson, which has now won two straight on Lake Carnegie, took the varsity eight race in 7:14.4, while the Tiger places second in 7:24.4.
"Even though the race against Harvard resulted in our largest margin of defeat, we’re not disappointed with our execution of it," junior Julia Wendt said. "We put out an extremely strong race and forced Harvard to really work for every second they took from us.
"In addition, according to results from races between Harvard and other teams that we have already raced, we were predicted to have a bigger time difference than what actually happened," she added. "To finish the race with a margin smaller than expected shows how we appear to be moving ahead in comparison to the rest of our competition."
Princeton will get an opportunity to measure itself against that competition Sunday at Cooper River, when Radcliffe and Princeton lead the best boats in the East in a showdown for the 2014 EAWRC Championship.
Princeton has won this championship six times, including its most recent title in 2011, while Radcliffe has won the title twice in the last decade. The Crimson comes into the weekend as the reigning champion, and it has already picked up wins over the top boats in the nation.
While those are the top-ranked teams, you would be foolish to overlook fourth-ranked Wisconsin, which has won eight of the 13 titles since 2001. Both Princeton and Radcliffe have wins over Wisconsin this season, though the Badgers have historically peaked late in the season.
“I think getting to race the top-ranked crew a week before Sprints is an advantage,” freshman Katie Mirabella said. “We get a taste for potentially the top speed that we will be racing against next weekend. Focusing soley on closing the gap with Harvard will put us in a very competitive position relative to the rest of the league.”
There aren't many groundbreaking changes you can make in one week, especially when two of the days featured fairly severe weather on Lake Carnegie. But that doesn't mean Princeton didn't look to make some gains during the week.
"We aren’t trying to make any drastic changes in just a few days, but one thing we have specifically prepared for is a more aggressive start," Wendt said. "Championship races always begin faster than the races that lead up to them: there is more competition, more adrenaline, and more at stake. Our team needs to be ready both physically and mentally to handle this scenario and have the confidence to push out past the other boats."