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We compare laboratory observations of equilibrated baroclinic waves in the rotating two-layer annulus, with numerical simulations from a quasi-geostrophic model. The laboratory experiments lie well outside the quasi-geostrophic regime: the Rossby number reaches unity; the depth-to-width aspect ratio is large; and the fluid contains ageostrophic inertia-gravity waves. Despite being formally inapplicable, the quasigeostrophic model captures the laboratory flows reasonably well. The model displaysdoi:10.1017/s0022112009993405 fatcat:c772razn4rdgzeh6cohumnohoi