The men’s heavyweight, men’s lightweight and women’s crew teams had their own version of spring training over the break, escaping the snow and ice of the Northeast to practice in the warmer Floridian climate.
The trip to the Sunshine State was the first opportunity for the teams to train on water. In addition, the crew teams had their first competition of the year, participating in the President’s Cup Regatta on the Hillsborough River in Tampa, their final tune-up for the spring season.
On the men’s side, Yale dominated the Open 8 Final, which included heavyweight and lightweight classes. The first men’s heavyweight varsity boat won the 1,500-meter race — 500 meters shorter than the 2,000-meter courses the team will row this spring.
Of the six boats that qualified for the final heat, five were Eli crafts, including the heavyweight first-varsity, second-varsity and freshmen boats, as well as the lightweight first-varsity and second-varsity boats. The Syracuse heavyweight varsity boat was the outsider in the Yale-dominated final.
While the team is pleased with its performance, the Yale success was to be expected. With the exception of Syracuse, which competes in the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges along with the men’s heavyweight, the other crew that participate in the event — mostly Florida schools — are not among the top tier of national crew programs.
“There is an element of testing yourself against competition, but Florida teams are not as good as we are,” heavyweight coach Dave Vogel said.
Vogel said while the strong performance is certainly welcome, he was more concerned to see his team developing the skills important for the upcoming racing season, such as boat-handling ability and starting-line speed.
“We were very methodical and step-by-step in improving our technique,” captain Scott Proper ’01 said. “This was the most productive training in Tampa that I have ever been part of as an athlete here.”
The Elis had similar success in the other races of the day. Eli boats, two heavyweight and two lightweight, took four of the top five spots in the Varsity 4 final. The Elis also had strong showing in the Pairs, Freshman 8 and Second 8 races.
Not to be outdone by their counterparts, the women had successes of their own at the President’s Cup.
The women’s crew had two boats in the Varsity 8 final. The first varsity boat finished in second place, less than two seconds behind victorious Michigan State. The second varsity boat was also in the final, finishing sixth. The competition was somewhat stronger on the women’s side, including what women’s captain Lucy McClellan ’01 characterized as quality programs in Michigan State and North Carolina.
“We don’t place a lot of emphasis on this race,” McClellan said. “It was more of a learning thing for us — go through the motions of having a race, get the jitters, see what happens.”
The junior varsity eight was victorious in its division. In addition, two Yale boats competed in the freshman eight, posting two of the top six times in the event.
The women will be back in action March 31 at the Connell Cup in Philadelphia. The same day, the lightweights will host MIT in the Joy Cup.
The heavyweights will return to action April 7-8, when they head to San Diego Crew Classic in Mission Bay, Calif.