Men’s Champ Eights

Heavyweight Great 8 Has Too Much Firepower

By Bri Hollis Published on October 19, 2014

They say practice makes perfect, but there are times when even the most practiced and cohesive of teams fall short when faced against an uncanny display of raw talent.

Such was the case with the Men’s Championship Eights victory this year, as the Great Eight out of Craftsbury Rowing Center successfully combined a group of distinguished international scullers that tailored its technique to sweep its way to victory.

“We’ve all had our [individual] wins,” says Coxswain Peter Weirsum of the Netherlands, “but I’ve really been wanting to win this one.”

The boat held an impressive roster, comprised of Weirsum, Valent and Martin Sinkovic of Croatia, Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand, Olaf Tufte of Norway, Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic, Roel Braas of the Netherlands, Julien Bahain of France, and American organizer John Graves, an alumnus of Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

“We just threw ourselves in a boat together for the first time on Thursday,” explains Weirsum with a laugh. “And we went up against not only some of the best crews, but crews that have a lot of experience rowing together.”

An additional challenge this Great Eight boat faced was the fact that all but one of the crew had competed in a sculling event on Saturday – so they were heaving their oars with already heavy arms.

“It’s just another thing that helped give this win an extra edge of excitement for us,” says Weirsum.

The Great Eight made its fastest push of the race out of the start, held a strong and steady pace through the middle, and finished the race with a huge push, not dropping below 42 strokes-per-minute around the last bend.

This boat was one of two Great Eight compilations in the race today, the other of which, a lightweight boat racing in the colors of the Cambridge Boat Club, finished sixteenth. Cambridge’s fate even further demonstrated how exemplary Craftsbury’s feat proved, showing that not only does it take immense talent, but also something to really click to win a race of this caliber.

Following the Craftsbury Great Eight across the line was Taurus Boat Club, the alumni club from Oxford University, followed by Harvard University, which took home the title for top college champions for the second consecutive year. US Rowing was fourth, just over two-tenths of a second from securing a spot in the top three. The University of Washington edged a French crew for fifth. California, Boston University, Princeton; and Yale rounded out the top ten.

But the afternoon belonged to the Great Eight, and a jubilant Peter Weirsum made it clear that winning never gets old.

“I have a few medals,” says Weirsum, referring to those he’s received at past world championships.  “But this one, this one I’ve never had before. This one feels really sweet.”




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