Columbia ends lightweight’s 10-year reign

On a weekend designed for celebration, the women’s crew team did not disappoint.

Before a large group of alums, assembled for the 30th anniversary of Yale women’s crew, the Bulldog women dominated Boston University and Dartmouth by winning four races, none by less than three seconds.

Yale’s varsity 8 boat clocked a 6:08.8 over the 2,000 meter course, easily outdistancing second place Boston University’s 6:12.8. Dartmouth was a distant third. The junior varsity 8 boat defeated runner-up Dartmouth (6:24.6 to 6:27.8), as did the novice boat (6:42.0 to 6:47.0) and the varsity 4 boat (7:03.2 to 7:08.5).

But even with such success, room for improvement remains.

“None of our boats have had a phenomenal race yet, which is good in a way, because it leaves us with a lot of things to fine-tune before Eastern Sprints,” captain Melissa Merritt ’03 said.

Apart from the race, the highlight of the celebratory weekend was the dedication of four new boats: two named for Nat Case ’70, Yale’s first women’s crew coach, and two named for Katherine Ward ’87 and the 1993 National Championship team.

The women rowers look to extend their streak of successful spring regattas this weekend against Princeton, when they will compete for the Eisenberg Cup in Derby, Conn.

Men’s Lightweight Crew

For the first time in a decade, the men’s lightweight crew team no longer holds the Dodge Cup.

This weekend, the squad competed against Columbia and Penn in Orchard Beach, N.Y., winning two of three races. The novice and junior varsity boats were victorious. But the varsity 8 boat’s 6:01.1 finished second to a strong Columbia team’s 5:57.5. With the loss, the Bulldogs relinquished the Dodge Cup for the first time in 10 years.

“We gave it our best, and they [Columbia] were faster,” captain Ben Hamilton ’03 said. “We are both very fast this year, and future racing will certainly be tight. Columbia deserves a lot of credit for a great performance.”

Last year’s national championship squad remains upbeat, despite the setback.

“One thing that’s great about the EARC [Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges] is that we will race Columbia again at Sprints [conference championships] and IRAs [nationals],” Hamilton said.

Head Coach Andy Card was philosophical about the issue, looking forward to the next time his team competes.

“Anytime you have a 10-year win streak that’s snapped, it can seem more significant than it is, to both the winner and the loser,” Card said. “My guys were no more responsible for the wins in ’93 and ’94 than the Columbia guys were for the losses in those years. Each race is its own event.”

The lightweight team heads to New Brunswick, N.J., this weekend to seek the Durand Cup against Rutgers and Dartmouth.

“The upcoming races will offer us another chance to iterate our race,” Card said. “The Dodge Cup was valuable to us, as this race will be. Value comes in many forms. Like Kipling, we have always sought to treat victory and loss — those two imposters — just the same.”

Men’s Heavyweight Crew

The men’s heavyweight crew team won three races this weekend. But the squad’s one loss leaves the team with a season-opening losing record.

In its first race of a short spring season, men’s heavyweight crew (0-1) won three of four races against Dartmouth in Derby. Bulldog rowers won the novice race (5:53.5 to 6:11.3), junior novice race (6:57.4 to 7:17.2), and junior varsity race (5:50.4 to 5:56.8) decisively. But in the key varsity race, Yale fell 5:37.7 to 5:36.6.

“It was definitely something we can build off. We let them [Dartmouth] get a little too much at the beginning of the race and couldn’t quite catch them at the end,” Andrew Brennan ’04 said. “We were a little anxious and frantic off the start, which we kind of anticipated, because this was our first race of the spring, but by the second 1,000 we had settled into a good, sustainable rhythm.”

Following 10 days of intense training in Tampa Bay over spring break, the heavyweight team looks to improve at the EARC and national championship.

“Our expectations are high. As a young team, we expect to improve above the curve of other teams,” Sam Limmer ’03 said. “We have a great group this year and an amazing coach [John Prescatore], who will continue to raise our standards.”

The heavyweight team seeks to bounce back with the varsity boat this weekend in Orchard Beach, N.Y., fighting Columbia and Pennsylvania for the Blackwell Cup.

Coxswain Jason Hsueh '05 leads the heavyweight men's varsity eight boat -- including rowers Justin Kienzle '05 and Andrew Brennan '04 -- against Dartmouth in Derby this weekend. Yale won three of four races but lost the coveted varsity race to the Big Green.
Eric Seymour
Coxswain Jason Hsueh '05 leads the heavyweight men's varsity eight boat -- including rowers Justin Kienzle '05 and Andrew Brennan '04 -- against Dartmouth in Derby this weekend. Yale won three of four races but lost the coveted varsity race to the Big Green.

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