Yale women’s crew team member Tess Gerrand ’10 earned the title of World Indoor Rowing Champion in Boston on Sunday.
Gerrand won both the collegiate and open divisions of the C.R.A.S.H.-B World Indoor Rowing Championships.
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Taylor Ritzel ’10 and Jamie Redman ’08 joined Gerrand in sweeping the collegiate division’s top three spots. Redman finished second and Ritzel third, while Ryan McCarthy ’10 placed 105th. In the open race, Redman took 4th and Ritzel 6th.
C.R.A.S.H.-B, held at Boston University, is an event whose scoring is based solely on 2,000-meter rowing-machine times. The championship began partly in jest — the acronym stands for Charles River All Star Has-Beens — but has evolved into the premier indoor rowing event.
To comply with NCAA regulations, the Bulldogs rowed as unaffiliated, but the three top finishers were all members of last year’s national championship heavyweight eight.
Although almost all of the rowers at the competition were officially unaffiliated with any university, some of those unaffiliated rowers compete for Yale’s biggest rivals. The championships could help gauge some of the spring collegiate competition.
“We went into the competition extremely composed and not necessarily knowing what to expect,” Ritzel said. “We were just trying to do the best that we could and to set a precedent for Yale rowing.”
The three top Elis indeed set precedents, competing against 223 of the best rowers from around the country and world to earn their top spots.
Gerrand’s time of 6:43.2 beat her personal record by 10 seconds, while Ritzel (6:52.0), Redman (6:49.9) and McCarthy (7:35.6) also set new personal records.
The women’s world indoor rowing record is currently 6:28.4.
Bulldogs are no strangers to the indoor world championships. Ritzel and Redman both competed last year, earning top-10 finishes, and in 2004, Maria Stevens ’06 became the world champion with a time of 6:40.90.
To compete at the C.R.A.S.H.-B, rowers have to show evidence of their ability to achieve championship-level times and are arranged in the arena according to their skill level. The three All-American Yalies raced on the front row with the top competitors at the race.
“It really just depends on who shows up for the race in determining how you will place,” Redman said. “I was just going for the number. Your time is staring you in the face the entire time, so it’s a big mental victory as well.”
Despite many national competitors not racing this year because of Olympic training, Redman said she thought the field was a lot faster than when she competed last year.
“It doesn’t really mean a lot,” Gerrand said. “I get a hammer, and I get my own confidence, but it means the team is going to have to work just as hard. Ergs don’t float — we have to make them fast.”
“It is more of a wake-up call than confidence booster,” Redman agreed. “It is very exciting to have Yale compete so well on the international level, but we are going to have to apply this strength to the water as a team.”
On an individual level, the Eli rowers’ times from this weekend are near the range necessary for Olympic competition. None of the women, however, said she had definite plans to compete on the Olympic level, although all said it was a possibility.
“I am a senior, so the Olympics are something I have been considering,” Redman said. “But we are just focusing on this upcoming season, taking it one practice at a time.”
The Bulldogs will begin their spring competition March 29 in a home race against Penn and Columbia.