Cal Rowing: Men's 2nd to UW, Women only qualified for the NCAA Petit Finals

No team national championships for Cal Rowing in 2021 Championship Weekend

Even with suboptimal results up to this point in a pandemic-shortened season, one can never count out Cal Crew with national championships on the line.


Saturday Results

A more detailed recap will be posted soon, but Saturday morning was not great for the Cal Bears.

The Cal men challenged Washington in the Varsity 8 race but fell about 3 seconds short, which was roughly the same margin between Cal and 3rd place Dartmouth.

All Cal boats fell short of their respective national championships. Other than the Varsity 8’s 2nd place finish, Cal placed 2nd in 3rd Varsity 8 and Varsity 4 behind Washington. Washington also won the 2nd Varsity 8 race where Cal took 3rd behind Dartmouth as well.

While the Women’s Championships will not be decided until Sunday, Cal’s championship hope is dashed in the semifinals on Saturday with all three boats only qualified to race in the petit finals. Cal finished 5th, 4th, and 5th in the V8, 2V8, and V4 semifinals, respectively, when they needed to place in the top 3 to advance.


Friday Results:

Cal Men’s Crew:

For Saturday’s Grand Final for the IRA National Championship, it will be the Cal Golden Bears against Washington, Stanford, Dartmouth, Syracuse, and Northeastern.

The 2V8 and 3V8 boats will also race for their respective national championships on Saturday. The V4 semifinal on Friday afternoon was cancelled due to the weather, but the Bears advanced to that final regardless thanks to the time trial result.

On Friday morning, the Varsity 8 was 4th in the time trial behind Washington, Dartmouth, and the newly reinstated Stanford. The rest of the boats placed 2nd behind Washington.

Cal Women’s Crew:

All 3 Cal boats have made their respective semifinals on Saturday.

The V8 and V4 boats had to race a second time in the repechage on Friday afternoon, where they each grabbed the second and final spot to advance.

The V8 (3rd in its heat) and V4 (4th in its heat) boats will need to race in the repechage to earn a spot in Saturday’s semifinal. 2V8 does advance out of its heat this morning.

This is obviously not a great morning for the Cal Bears, but maybe they can use the extra race as valuable experience for as soon as the rest of this weekend.


From Lake Mercer, NJ in a shortened championship, Cal Men’s Rowing will seek an 18th national championship, a first since 2016. Rather than a three-day event with preliminary rounds with a repechage, semifinals, and finals over three days, a time trial on Friday morning at 7 AM ET will decide the 18 boats (out of 31) that will advance to the three semifinals starting at 3 PM ET. The top 2 boats from each semifinal will get to race for the IRA Championship, awarded to the best Varsity 8+ boat in the country.

Cal has not done as well as they have historically in the last few races (there was no 2020 championship, of course) falling behind not just Washington but also Yale. With two-time defending champs Yale not present this year (Ivy League canceled all sports although Brown, Princeton, and Penn will be present this weekend), Cal may be the main challenger to Washington. Washington has handily defeated Cal at both the dual meet in Washington as well as at the Pac-12 Championships.

One should expect the same Cal lineup as at the Pac-12 Championships. It is a lineup with a nice blend of both experience and youth.

Senior George Finlayson was recently named the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He is also one of three Cal Bears on the All Pac-12 Team with coxswain Brett Cataldo and Jack Robertson. Freshman Frederick Breuer is the Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year.

The entire 2021 IRA Championships will be without spectators due to COVID protocols. All the actions will be streamed on the IRA YouTube channel for free.

Other than the V8+ boat, Cal will also have entrant for the 2V8+, 3V8+, and V4+ national championships. There is also a nice, large trophy to the school with the best cumulative finish.


The Cal women had placed solidly behind both Washington and Stanford all season long in the dual meets and behind both at the Pac-12 Championships. They will hope to avenge those losses at the event that matters the most - the 2021 NCAA Championships this weekend from Sarasota, FL.

The NCAA Championship is decided by the cumulative score of three events: V8+, 2V8+, and V4 with the V8+ result count for both double the points as well as being the first tie-breaker. Cal is seeking a 6th team title, last winning it all in 2018.

Graduate student Kailani Marchak and sophomore Fien van Westreenen of the Cal V8 boat were named to the All Pac-12 team.

The 2021 NCAA Championships begin on Friday morning with heats in the varsity eight, second varsity eight, and varsity four. The semifinals are set for Saturday with the finals scheduled for Sunday.

The NCAA will stream the races on all three days. This is the link to the finals on Sunday.

ROW ON YOU BEARS!