On a crisp autumn Sunday, 16 members of the freshman heavyweight team sat in two boats at the starting line on Lake Carnegie in Princeton, N.J., for the freshman-only Belly of the Carnegie regatta.
With a time of 14:18, the Bulldog freshman A-boat finished 11th out of 32 boats from 14 schools on the 3-mile course this weekend. The Harvard A-boat took first place with a time of 13:48. Among the other Ivy League competitors, Yale finished behind Princeton, Penn and Brown, and four seconds ahead of 14th place Cornell. The Eli B-boat stroked into 17th place with a time of 14:31, only five-hundredths of a second better than Georgetown’s 18th place B-boat.
Varsity heavyweight head coach John Pescatore said the freshmen performed better on Oct. 19 at the Head of the Charles, where the eight freshman heavyweight recruits rowed to a third place finish in the only Yale frosh boat. At the Belly of the Carnegie, the Bulldogs competed in mixed boats, with four walk-ons and four recruits in each boat.
“The performance [at the Belly of the Carnegie] depends upon the depth of your experienced rowers more than anything else,” Pescatore said. “I was disappointed [with the results], but not worried.”
Freshman heavyweight coach Evans Liolin said with the mixed crews the strokes-per-minute rate was lower than at the Head of the Charles.
“I think the guys would have liked to finish higher,” Liolin said. “[But] I don’t think it is an indicator of how things will be in the spring.”
Freshman recruit Charlie Cole ’07, who was in the A-boat, said the Bulldogs were doing well until the boat “caught the crab,” or a teammate lost his grip on an oar. Cole’s boat started sixth in the time-trial race and approximately 15 seconds later Penn started seventh. Penn gained on Yale when an Eli oar slipped a second time, causing the crew to get out of sync, Cole said.
“After the crab, the boat was a little shaky,” Cole said.
The Belly of the Carnegie was the first race not on home waters for the eight walk-ons. A-boat coxswain Lucinda McRoberts ’07 said the team had a lot of confidence heading into the race.
“We had an awesome practice on Saturday,” McRoberts said. “So we were a little disappointed coming out of the race having not lived up to our potential.”
Liolin and Cole both said the poor performance at the Belly of the Carnegie — the Elis’ last race of the fall — does not mean the team will not be successful in the spring.
“Even though we finished on a bad note, it refocuses us,” Cole said. “[The race] was tough. We’ll get over it and move on.”
McRoberts said Liolin has emphasized that the fall is a time for the novice crew to gain experience, while the spring is competitively more important.
“I think the guys know what they want to accomplish this winter and spring, and they are ready to do the work to get there,” Liolin said.