Lightweight crew dominates the water

366 Elm Street, next to Rudy’s, is a place with transformative powers. A pair of oars grace the building’s facade like a coat of arms. Everyone who lives there seems to enter anxious and restless, only to emerge, four years later, confident, triumphant and buff.

The house is home to Yale’s lightweight crew team, which has produced an extraordinary string of triumphs since the Class of 2002 enrolled. Some teams evaluate their talent on a match-to-match basis and more ambitious ones aim to conquer a season, but this team seems satisfied with nothing less than four full years of dominance.

Since 2000, Yale’s boats have won three straight Goldthwait Cups over Harvard and Princeton. Since 1999 they have won every Durand Cup against Rutgers and Dartmouth, every Dodge Cup over Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania, and every Joy Cup over M.I.T. Yale has not dropped this race since 1978.

And that’s just the appetizer in the team’s four-year feasting upon rival rowers. In its time at Yale, the Class of 2002 has won two San Diego Crew Classic championships, in 2000 and again this year. In 2000, the Eli rowers became the first college crew since the 1970s to win the Head of the Charles Lightweight Eight title, and then they won it again in 2001. They won the IRA National Championship in 2000 and, as the No. 1 ranked crew in the country, are the favorites to win a second title, on June 1.

This year’s seniors also had a hand in two varsity EARC Sprints titles — one this year, and a record-setting lightweight varsity eights sprint in 2001. To top it all off, Yale won the Temple Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta, in England, in 2000.

But such success was not surprising considering the prestige of Yale’s crew program. In fact, a host of this year’s seniors — captain Ian Malloch ’02, Wesley Ng ’02, Andrew Liverman ’02, William Ralph ’02, and Janek Wasserman ’02 formed a freshman boat in their rookie year that won the Sprints freshman eight and went undefeated in the regular season. The only graduating senior who was not on that team is Patrick Gaughen ’02, who is graduating in three years.

“Great coaching, great recruiting, great leaders on the team, and most importantly, great friendships,” was Malloch’s formula for four college years that have been blindingly bright on the water. Malloch and teammate Liverman have not lost a regular season race during their entire time at Yale, a feat their coach, Andrew Card, called “very, very rare.”

“They’ve only lost two [postseason] races in their entire time here, and by a combined time of less than a second,” Card said. “The Class of 2002 is a phenomenal class.”

Phenomenal in its achievement, but also phenomenal in its dedication to preserving the team’s legacy. After marching in Yale’s Commencement ceremonies, this year’s team will chase a rare “Triple Crown” at the IRA National Championship — they have already won this year’s Goldthwait Cup and the Eastern Sprints. And while the Class of 2002’s Yale education will have ended May 27, its season will continue on until July 7th, because the team has gone and qualified for Henley again.

But England will be an appropriate place for Card to say goodbye to this year’s seniors because memories from 2000’s triumph abound there.

“When they beat Columbia, and then went on to beat the British Heavyweights [in 2000], they were outweighed by 30 pounds a guy. That victory really typifies their spirit,” Card said.

This year’s captain, Malloch, said he will live in England next fall and try to row for one of the London clubs.

“I think that one of the things that my class has done so well is to actually come close to meeting our potential as oarsmen,” Malloch said.

Card only agreed partially with Malloch’s statement.

“I’m looking for them to reach their potential on June 1 of this year, at IRA Championships,” he said. “The guys are really focused on doing that. This year can get even better.”

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