The men’s lightweight and women’s crew teams had strong showings in their first races Saturday after only a few weeks of training on the water.
The men’s lightweight team defeated Georgetown in the varsity, second varsity and two freshman races at its home course on the Housatonic River in Derby. The varsity eight finished in 5:45.1, 2.3 seconds ahead of Georgetown. The second varsity eight came in at 5:57.6, 5.6 seconds ahead of the Hoyas.
With no teams having competed before last weekend, the Bulldogs did not know what to expect of Georgetown, nor of themselves.
Lightweight head coach Andrew Card said both teams raced well, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“Those guys were really ready to race,” Card said of Yale’s opponent. “For this time of year, I thought we looked fine, but there are a lot of little things we can improve.”
One positive sign of the team’s transition to racing conditions was its stroke efficiency, rowing at fewer strokes per minute than Georgetown at certain points but maintaining an equal pace.
“At times we were at the same rating as Georgetown and sometimes a little lower than Georgetown — [which] indicates you’re a little bit more efficient,” Card said.
Card added that neither the team’s lineup nor its race strategy are set at this point. Changes may be made over the course of the season to improve Yale’s ability to repeat the team’s 2002 national championship.
Next Saturday, the varsity team will travel to San Diego for the Secretary of the Navy Cup, where it will compete against six West Coast teams and Navy, which finished second behind Yale for the 2002 national championship.
Although the women’s varsity races were canceled after the varsity Yale and University of Pennsylvania boats crashed into each other in warm-ups, the first and second novice teams and the the second varsity defeated the Quakers and Columbia in each of their races.
Head coach Will Porter said the Yale and Penn varsity eight boats had a “minor collision” while warming up for their race. First-team All-American Melissa Merritt ’03 said in an e-mail that Dinah Dimalanta ’05 was the only rower ejected from the boat, while a University of Pennsylvania rower was knocked unconscious. Both rowers are now okay, Porter and Merritt said.
“These things don’t happen all the time,” Porter said. “Any time anyone ends up in the water, it’s a scary thing. We don’t want a minor fender-bender to distract our team.”
The novice and second varsity teams remained focused as they went on to win their races. In the largest margin of victory in the three races, the first novice finished in 7:35, 12 seconds ahead of the Quakers and 22 seconds ahead of the Lions. The second varsity and second novice boats finished with winning times of 7:40 and 8:53, respectively.
“I thought, based on the lower boats’ performance, we were very much on track to where we want to be right now,” Porter said. “There was a strong headwind, but the teams handled it well.”
Merritt, one of only three varsity rowers returning to the team, also said she was pleased with the boats’ performances.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction and we’re definitely looking forward to finally racing next weekend,” she said.
The Bulldogs will compete against Syracuse and Cornell next Saturday at Syracuse.
Heavyweight crew did not compete last weekend, but has its first race Saturday at home against Dartmouth.