The heavyweights continued their progress April 24 against No. 3 Princeton and No. 10 Cornell. The No. 9 Elis improved on their results from earlier in the season, picking up three seconds on the Tiger boat that defeated the Bulldogs at the Windermere Collegiate Crew Classic March 27-28.
Although the third varsity eight was the only Bulldog victor, the four other boats turned in strong performances and were defeated by small margins. The first varsity boat completed the Housatonic River course in 5:37.2 in a light tailwind. The winner, Princeton, and Cornell crossed the finish line just over five seconds before the Bulldogs.
The Elis’ work on starts the past three weeks paid off, as they jumped out to an early lead. Yale head coach John Pescatore said a quick start is vital for his squad. The first segment of the race gave the Bulldogs confidence that they could stay with the highly touted Princeton eight. At the Windermere, Princeton shed the Elis at the start, and the Yale crew was quickly out of the race.
“We worked hard last week to improve our start, and managed to have a pretty good one in our race,” captain and first varsity stroke Andrew Brennan ’04 said. “I wouldn’t say we went out too hard. We just need to do a better job of maintaining that intensity and explosiveness throughout the race.”
The Tigers gained on the Eli eight, moving into the lead approximately 500 meters down the course. The Bulldogs remained even with Cornell to the halfway mark but began to fall behind in the third quarter of the race. The third 500 is typically the slowest because fatigue becomes an issue.
“That’s where the lead changes hands a lot,” Pescatore said. “Pain sets in, and it is just a matter of building fitness and maintaining boat speed.”
All five Eli boats showed improvement in close losses. The second varsity crew finished one second after Princeton with a 5:43.3. The first freshman boat rowed the 2,000 meters in 5:50.6, defeating Cornell but finishing second to the Tigers by 1.6 seconds. The Elis hope to continue bettering their technique and intensity as the championship regattas and Harvard race draw nearer.
“It was definitely encouraging to make up some time on Princeton,” Brennan said. “We’ll just keep chipping away, trying to improve every day, and hopefully surprise some people at Sprints, IRAs and the Harvard race.”
Pescatore said his team will use the slim defeats as motivation to work harder this week in preparation for Georgetown May 1. Yale will shift focus from starts to the middle 1,000 meters of the race, rowing 1,500-meter pieces to sustain boat speed and rhythm. The Bulldog’s performance against Princeton and Cornell proved they have a strong start, and Pescatore hopes this added confidence will lead to more efficient starts, preserving energy for later in the race.