A lot of spectators at last weekend’s high school-collegiate San Diego Crew Classic may have thought the defending national champion Cal Golden Bears were the only Berkeley squad to show up. And as far as Berkeley High boys crew coach Eric Christiani is concerned, they were right.
Two weeks after defeating Bay Area rival Los Gatos by a gaping 20 seconds in a league race, the BHS varsity-8 boat struggled with the Classic’s pace, rowing an inefficient race in Saturday’s preliminary action, and failing to qualify for the event’s finals race.
“We had a disappointing performance, there was a little bit of self-destruction,” said Christiani, who cited problems with the crew’s stroke rhythm. “It wasn’t their day.
“There were a lot of teams (there), and it’s hard to stay focused, especially without experience.”
As expected, No. 1 Cal took home the event’s collegiate title, with Marin Rowing Association completing the Bay Area sweep on the high school side. The Oakland Strokes and St. Ignatius High, both on Berkeley’s league schedule, placed fifth and sixth, respectively.
The Yellowjackets battle both St. Ignatius and Marin in a league race this Saturday afternoon at San Francisco’s Lake Merced. Despite Marin’s dominant reputation, Christiani believes his crew can compete, if it returns to the form of two weeks ago.
“Marin Rowing Association is very strong, it’d be great if we beat them (this weekend),” Christiani said about the upcoming tri-meet. “(My athletes are) strong enough to do much better than they presented themselves this weekend.”
Berkeley High’s junior varsity boat made the trip worthwhile for the coach, advancing to the finals after a solid showing in the preliminary races. Though the Yellowjackets slowed down considerably in the finals race, Christiani was thrilled with the JV boat’s rapid overall improvement.
“We had a mediocre race in the finals, but we were up against a lot of good crews – so that wasn’t necessarily an upset,” the BHS coach said. “The JV had a good (weekend). I felt they built up a lot of confidence.”