Top-ranked and defending IRA champion Stanford lightweight rowing saw all three of its boats advance to Sunday's Grand Finals at the 2016 IRA Championships Saturday morning on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J.
The lightweight eight and lightweight four won their heats by open water, while the lightweight double placed second in its heat Saturday. All three boats will race for a National Championship Sunday morning.
Stanford's top boat wasted little time surging to the front of the field in its heat. The lightweight eight opened with two-seat advantage on Wisconsin and grew it to a half a length over the Badgers by 500 meters. The Cardinal built an open-water lead on the field at the 750-meter mark and never looked back, en route to the heat victory. Stanford completed the course in 6:35.320, over second-place Wisconsin's time 6:49.720.
The lightweight four left little doubt in its heat as well, building an open-water lead on the field by 750 meters. Stanford, which led consistently from the start, finished the heat with a time of 7:33.270, ahead of second-place Massachusetts (7:39.910).
Stanford's lightweight double opened with a lead in the first 250 meters of its heat. However, Boston made a move to surge past the Cardinal at 500 meters. The Terriers opened a two-thirds of a length lead at the midpoint of the course. Boston (7:42.630) went on to win the heat, while the Cardinal (7:50.220) finished the race in second with an open-water advantage over third-place Radcliffe (8:00.050).
Meanwhile, Stanford men's rowing's varsity eight and varsity four completed the second day of the IRA Championships.
The Cardinal's top boat will race in the Petite Final on Sunday after placing sixth in its top-level semifinal heat on Saturday morning, while the varsity four finished fourth in its third-level semifinal heat and will race in Sunday's fourth-level Final.
The varsity eight, which fought back in yesterday's repechage to earn a spot in the top-level semifinal, faced California, Washington, Harvard, Northeastern and Navy in Saturday's race for a berth in Sunday's Grand Final.
The Cardinal opened the race in sixth, a couple seats back of Navy. Stanford tried to take water away from Navy (5:43.620) throughout the course, before finishing sixth with a time of 5:48.640. California won the race with a time of 5:29.880, with Washington (5:32.620), Harvard (5:38.890) and Northeastern (5:41.370) rounding out the top four.
Stanford's varsity eight will move on to Sunday's Petite Final where the Cardinal will face Navy, Northeastern, Boston, Columbia and Pennsylvania.
In a tightly contested varsity four race in the third-level semifinal, Stanford tried to navigate its way through the crowded field. The top five spots were separated by less than four seconds. The Cardinal (6:43.830) placed fourth, just a couple seats back of first-place Brown (6:40.760), second-place Navy (6:41.960) and third-place Marist (6:42.960). Yale finished fifth with a time of 6:44.740.