SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The No. 1 Golden Bears finished first overall at the Lake Natoma Invitational, as the two-day regatta has wrapped up on the Gold River. California's varsity eight boat won its grand final, helping the Bears capture Sunday morning's session. As the only team to win all three sessions through the weekend, the Bears secured their first-place team finish.
"We knew Brown was going to be a challenge in all three races,” head coach Dave O’Neill said. “They looked strong and are clearly one of the better teams in the country right now. USC is very good, as well. Getting three wins against them is not easy by any means. I think we're pretty good right now although we definitely have some things to figure out."
In the varsity eight grand final, Brown took an early lead by three seats off the start. By 750 meters Cal had pulled even and was moving. The Bears established a clear lead by the halfway and pulled away during the final quarter of the race, clocking a time of 6:23.00 to capture the title, defeating Brown (6:27.40) and Southern California (6:32.30).
"Our first eight had a solid race, and this weekend was good for them,” O’Neill said. “The second eight was good but not great. Brown is setting a pretty standard for that boat right now, so I'm glad we raced them. We need to be better."
In the second varsity eight grand final, Cal took an early lead of three seats, but Brown pulled even just before the halfway. Brown continued to pull away in the second half to finish in 6:31.60. Cal completed the course in 6:35.10 to take second, and USC came in third (6:39.80).
In the varsity four grand final, Brown took the lead right away and gained most of their margin in the first half of the race, finishing the course in 7:19.40. Cal and USC battled for second place as Cal established a lead just after 1000 meters and was able to stay ahead. The Bears completed the course in 7:27.00 to place second with USC taking third (7:28.80)
"Our four is a work in progress,” O’Neill said. “We've had 10 different people race in that boat the two last weekends, and each line-up has been pretty good. They definitely got better through the three races this weekend, so we're heading in the right direction."
Cal had two boats in the novice eight finals, with ‘Cal A’ capturing the A final title and ‘Cal B’ taking the B final title. In the A final, Cal’s boat completed the course in 7:00.20 to defeat Kansas (7:05.80), Oklahoma (7:12.80) and USC (7:18.20). In the B final, the Cal B boat finished with a time of 7:08.40 to top Sacramento State A (7:16.50) and Sac State B (7:47.40).
"Looking ahead, we'll be taking a look at everything to put together the best team we can,” O’Neill said. “Getting the right people in the right seats and best combinations is always a challenge, and this weekend's racing gives all the coaches plenty of information to think about."