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Best Seat in the House

Photography, sports and life as seen through the lens of Seattle Times photographer Rod Mar.

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April 30, 2008 5:26 PM

UW Crew: Power to the Purple

Posted by Rod Mar


What the....?

"They LEAVE the dock at 6am. You gotta be there well before", intoned Dan Lepse, sports information director for the UW crew program when he called me to inform me that yes, I could accompany the crew out for one of their morning practices.

Lepse's tone also seemed to say, "I remember you in college, and you never woke up before noon, even if you had a class."

I can't argue with that.

But here's what I learned by spending a morning with the UW men's crews and their coach Michael Callahan.

As the old Army slogan used to say, "They do more by 6am than you'll do all day".

College kids. Gotta love 'em. They drag themselves into the crewhouse only 30 minutes (or less) before they're due to hit the water ("the procession of the walking dead", someone describes it to me) and in no time at all, they're laughing, stretching, running, working out on rowing machines and getting ready for another workout.

Walking down to the water's edge you'll pass a sign that shows some of the destinations the crews have traveled to in previous years:

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200mm/f2.8 zoom lens @ 185mm, ISO 400, 1/1250th sec, f3.2)

The weather was perfect and the dawn provided a great backdrop to the varsity eight putting their shell into the waters of Lake Washington:

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 16-35mm/f2.8 zoom lens @ 16mm, ISO 800, 1/100th sec, f22)

I'm on a launch piloted by men's coach Michael Callahan, and we slowly make our way alongside the crews through the placid Montlake Cut. Callahan reminds me that in only a couple of days, the environment along the cut will be so loud that rowers will not be able to hear instructions from the coxswains during the races.

It seems a far cry from the quiet solitude of the waters and the Montlake Bridge silently looming above us, the occasional car crossing its grates.

We make our way into Lake Union, and the light is beautiful and the Space Needle gives the image a sense of place:

Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 125mm, ISO 320, 1/320th sec, f8.0)

As the crews do some warm up pieces, I mess with exposure and shutter speeds:

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 16-35mm/f2.8 zoom lens @ 22mm, ISO 50, 1/4th sec, f22)

The oars coming out of the water are a nice detail:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 300mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 500, 1/640th sec., f7.1)

Callahan arranges races between the different boats, and because of the different ages and skills, he staggers the starting point for the boats. They do two heavily competitive race pieces and the guys are giving it their all:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 300mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 200, 1/800th sec, f4.0)

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 300mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 200, 1/800th sec, f3.5)

After they return to the crewhouse, I pack up and leave, fully intending on taking a nap.

The crew, however, they're off to class. Their day has just started.

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