Top women rowers will be at Lake Monticello

By Duncan Nixon

Watching the University of Virginia women’s rowing team glide across Lake Monticello is always a pleasant early spring diversion. This year the competition promises to be intense. In a pre-season poll UVA was ranked number ten  in the nation, a solid ranking. The teams that will be competing at the Lake on April 13 and 14 include three squads that were ranked ahead of UVA and two schools that were in the top 20.

Visiting all the way from the West Coast will be Stanford and the University of California Berkeley. They are ranked number one and number eight respectively. Also making the serious trek from out west is Oregon State. They are ranked at number 20. Yale and Syracuse will also be on hand and neither school could be considered right next door. A lot of milage is being put in to bring top squads together. Yale is ranked at number five and Syracuse is ranked just behind UVA at number 11. UVA has a long history of top-rated women’s rowing teams. They captured the national championship in 2010 and 2012.

Except for a couple years when there were COVID concerns that prevented UVA from rowing at the Lake, the women’s rowing team has hosted an event at Lake Monticello annually. The rowing team Coach Kevin Sauers, who is the only head coach the rowing team has ever had, said some years ago that when he was hired he got a map of central Virginia and looked for a body of water big enough to be the site for his hoped for home rowing contests. He saw Lake Monticello and visited to evaluate its size. He concluded that there was room for the rowing events he contemplated. So, he went to the Lake’s Board of Directors in place at that time and convinced them to allow the Lake to be the site of his home events. The rest is history.

The UVA roster, as posted on its website, lists the height of all the team members. Most are between 5-9 and 6-2. Obviously, this a sport for strong and tall young women. Every now and then as you review the roster, a young women is listed at a height of 4-11 to 5-3. These are the coxswains who call out the strokes but do not row.

Due to the requirement that the rowers have as smooth a surface as the weather allows, boating on the Lake will be restricted while the rowing teams are in town. In good weather and bad, Lake Monticello is an attractive venue for rowing aficionados. Family members and longtime fans congregate at the main clubhouse to chat and gossip and view their favorites rowing hard. This is the only Division 1 sports event to be staged in Fluvanna County.

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