Alabama Boats Piling Up Miles

For its last competition, the Alabama Rowing team loaded into a bus, put its boats on a trailer, and traveled across the state of Georgia to get to Clemson, S.C. The whole trip took about 700 miles and 12 hours of road time to go round trip.

This weekend will be a little different. This weekend, the Alabama rowing team is making its first cross-country trip, crossing five states and covering just shy of 2,000 miles, one way, to take part in the San Diego Crew Classic. This time though, the rowers and coaches are traveling by plane. The boats on the other hand were once again loaded on trailers and driven to the West Coast to be ready for the student-athletes upon their arrival. Then once the regatta is over, they'll be driven back again.

All the miles, both through the air and over land, will pay dividends for a young Alabama program in terms of both exposure and experience according to Coach Larry Davis.

"This year when we upgraded our schedule, we looked to the West Coast," Davis said. "If we're going to make it to the NCAA Championships and have comparable results to the teams in the Pac 10, we're going to have to race against them."

Getting West Coast teams to come far enough east to face the Tide isn't easy, so Davis and company chose to make the trip to the Crew Classic, which will give them a chance to face not only top California schools, but strong squads from across the country.

"There will be schools from across the country there, but we specifically wanted a chance to race against some of the Pac 10 schools and this regatta gives us that opportunity," Davis said.

In addition to the travel, the San Diego Crew Classic, which bills itself as "America's Premier Spring Regatta," presents different challenges for Alabama. The event is held on Crown Point Shores on Mission Bay and features nearly 4,000 athletes from more than 100 universities and clubs from the United States, Canada and Mexico.

"We don't want to be distracted, because there are so many athletes and boats packed into a small area and it is something of an unusual course, which is affected by not only winds but tides as well," Davis said. "We're going to have to make sure we stay tuned in and don't forget why we're out there and that we make the most of the opportunity we have in taking on these teams."

Alabama is taking four boats to California, the first and second Varsity 8+ as well as the Varsity 4+ and the Novice 8+. The Tide's first race, the first Varsity 8+ is slated to get underway at 8:20 a.m. PDT.

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