The second-ranked Princeton men’s lightweight rowing team will look for a second straight Cup retention this Saturday morning, as it heads to Overpeck Park to take on both Navy and Columbia.
The varsity eight showdown between Princeton and Navy will be for the Murtaugh Cup, named for the highly successful former Tiger lightweight coach, Joe Murtaugh.
“The championships in May and June are certainly the focus, but Cup races are the real body of the season,” junior Bowen Peard said. “Crews grow a lot week to week, and racing our competition in duel races is a large part of this growth. We hope to gain maturity and race experience that will serve us well as we enter our most intense competitions.
“And, of course, we hope to have fun doing what we have been training for the past six months to do — to race boats,” Peard added.
Peard was part of Princeton’s successful season opener last weekend, when the Princeton varsity eight defeated Georgetown by more than 23 seconds to retain the Fosburgh Cup. It was part of a perfect day for the men’s lights, who overcame some challenging weather to post an unbeaten morning.
“Our team is relatively young this year, but there is still a great deal of rowing experience to go around,” Peard said. “There are four returners from last year’s boat in the 1V, and I think their experience and some fresh blood made for a dynamic combination. We rowed that race with a lot of fire, but also with good composure, and it will be exciting to see what speed the boat will be able to pick up over the next two months.”
The Murtaugh Cup was originally scheduled to be the lightweight season opener, but the extended winter forced a postponement. Thus, each team has one race under its belt heading into the weekend. Navy fell by less than five seconds to No. 2 Yale. Columbia, the regatta host, will be making its season debut; the Lions and Midshipmen will race for the WIT Cup in the varsity eight competition.
Princeton won last year’s season-opening race against Navy by more than nine seconds, and it topped Columbia by less than three seconds in the regular season finale. The Lions avenged that result at Eastern Sprints, though, finishing just ahead of the Tigers in the V8 grand final.
Ultimately, peaking at Sprints is the ultimate goal for the men’s lightweights, and this team is still in the early stages of developing the chemistry needed to be successful that Sunday in Worcester.
“Everyone has their own technical shortcomings to work on, but most basically, we all need to get comfortable rowing together, and to learn to take the water and apply pressure in the same way,” Peard said.
Of course, if the Tigers can continue to pick up victories along the way, all the better.