The women’s lightweight varsity eight placed third nationally.
Beverly Schaefer
National championships bring mixed results for Princeton crews

Following last year’s 7th-place finish at the NCAA Championships, Princeton women’s open rowing dreamed of a national title in the 2017 regatta at nearby Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J., May 26–28. 

The Tigers arrived with an unbeaten, Ivy-champion varsity eight and strong crews in the other two events, the second-varsity eight and varsity four. But the hometown crowd and familiar surroundings were not enough to propel the Tigers to the top of the standings. The varsity eight missed the grand final, finishing one second behind the last qualifying boat in its semifinal race, and the second-varsity eight met a similar fate, settling for a spot in the petite final.

The women’s open varsity four reached the NCAA grand final.
Beverly Schaefer

Princeton’s varsity four was the only boat to advance to its grand final, earning sixth place in the event. The Tigers placed 10th in the overall points standings, behind Ivy rivals Yale and Brown.

Six varsity-eight rowers will return next year, and co-captain Georgie Howe ’17 predicted a stronger finish in 2018. “There’s a fire lit under them,” she said. “It’s these experiences that give you the motivation to gain speed. I have no doubt it will happen.”

The other three Princeton rowing programs each had medal-winning boats at the IRA Championships on California’s Lake Natoma June 3–4. 

The women’s lightweight varsity eight finished third, earning a place on the IRA medal stand for the first time since 2011. The Tigers outpaced fourth-place Wisconsin by nearly four seconds. The Badgers had edged Princeton by a tenth of a second at the Eastern Sprints in late April.

The men’s heavyweight varsity eight, which won bronze in the Eastern Sprints, narrowly missed an IRA medal, placing fourth. The program earned bronze in two other events, the second-varsity eight and varsity four, and Princeton placed fifth in the combined points standings for heavyweight eights.

The men’s lightweight varsity four without coxswain was Princeton’s highest IRA finisher, placing second behind Harvard. The men’s lightweight varsity eight placed fifth in a closely contested grand final.