First regatta held on LU's Ivy Lake
March 29, 2011 | Lynchburg, VA
With temperatures hovering in the 30s, rowers and spectators cocooned themselves in blankets to keep warm, but as launch time for Liberty's first home regatta approached, crew members suited up and hit the water rowing.
Saturday marked the first William and Mary/Liberty University Duel Regatta, held at Ivy Lake in Lynchburg. Both teams plan for this to be an annual event.
Hugs from supporting parents and an atmosphere of slight confusion and excitement filled the boathouse as crew members got into uniform, looked over the race schedule and boats were carried down to the launch pad.
A large turnout brought loud cheering and plenty of support. Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. also made an appearance at his first ever regatta.
"We are very appreciative of the fans," head coach Mark Furler said.
Throughout the day, there were a total of four women's races and four men's races.
From the start of the regatta, William and Mary took control and placed first in all eight races.
Although Liberty did not come out on top, team members showed heart with every row stroke.
"I threw up twice in the last part of the race, but you don't stop," varsity rower Charlie Vazquez said. "It was the most exciting race I've ever had."
"The teams performed quite well, and there were a lot of close races," Furler said. "We knew William and Mary was very good, but we wanted to race against a team that was going to push us and was a growing program like we are."
The final race of the day was a hat-race, which consists of a random drawing of rowers that are placed in a boat and sent out on the water to race. This also means that if a crew member is not bisweptual, one who can row on both sides of the boat, the race can be very interesting and difficult.
"It is just a lot of fun to mix up rowers," varsity captain Austin Coombs said. "It is all just for fun."
There are a few traditions that Liberty, as well as other schools, have during crew races. The first is throwing the winning coxswain into the water after the race. The second is throwing someone celebrating a birthday into the water, a tradition varsity women's captain Amy McGowan dreaded throughout the day.
"It's tradition, it just sucks to be a March baby," McGowan said.
"Liberty crew members not only participate in regatta's and gain experience; but a few are interested in traveling on a missions trip.
"We want to go to South Africa and row and spread the word of God," Vickie Vazquez, novice rower said.
Coach Furler presented William and Mary head coach Nathan Walker with the first duel regatta trophy.
"There were a number of my rowers that came up to me throughout the day and said Liberty has some of the nicest rowers we have ever met," Walker said.
The day ended with traditions, laughter and a prayer of thanks and travel safety by Furler.