The Western Washington University Men’s Rowing team has been a distinguished and successful collegiate rowing program in the northwest for over forty years. A club team since 2007, Western men row from September to May in preparation for the spring sprint racing season. Each year, 8-man boats (8’s) and 4-man boats (4’s) race in a number of regional regattas, sending the most competitive crews to championship competitions. We race regionally for most of the year in what was formerly the NCRC conference, with championship with the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) and American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA).
Our primary competition is against other club rowing programs in the state and neighboring British Columbia. These teams were once the NCRC conference but are now an informal association of teams, including Pacific Lutheran University, Seattle Pacific University, University of Puget Sound, Washington State University, University of Fraser Valley, and Lewis & Clark College. We race at 3-4 regattas in the fall and 6-8 regattas in the spring leading up to the WIRA regatta, before sending our most competitive crew to ACRA Nationals on Memorial Weekend.
WIRA is a western regional organization that includes approximately 28 rowing programs at all division levels representing colleges and universities in four western states. WIRA includes almost all non Pac-10 institutions with rowing programs in the west. The WIRA Championships are in late April or early May and are held at Lake Natoma near Sacramento.
ACRA includes all collegiate club rowing programs in the country and was created after the 2008 decision to exclude club teams from competing at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta. The conference has nearly 200 member schools, which includes such powerhouse crews as Michigan, Virginia, Penn State, UCLA, and UC Davis. The Vikings plan to take as many competitive boats as possible to this national championship, which takes place at the end of May.
Fall Racing Season: Rowing competition in fall is focused on head racing. These races are around 5000 meters and are slower, more endurance based courses. Head races involve turns and can be more of a scenic row (not that the rowers themselves have time to stop and appreciate it), while generally taking place in the rougher water fall brings. Given that the team will only have a month or so of practice before racing, head racing is a great way to ramp up quickly and provide an early season training goal for novice and returning rowers. Below, the V8 races at the 2016 first-annual Island Regatta hosted on home course Lake Whatcom.
Spring Racing Season: This is the true competitive season in college rowing. Standard race format is 2000 meters. Everyone on the team will race in fall races and early spring races. As the competition level increases through the spring, we begin seat-racing and putting our most competitive lineups forward. All rowers on the team continue practicing through the spring but are not guaranteed to race in the most competitive late-spring season regattas. Although we are a club program, we are not a recreational rowing program and place a priority on competition within our team, region, and at championship regattas.