Women’s crew captain Dinah Dimalanta ’05 awoke to an unexpected phone call from coach Will Porter Friday morning. With blasting winds and heavy downpours forecasted for the next morning, Yale had no choice but to bump up Saturday’s Cayuga Cup race against Syracuse and Cornell a day earlier. A team that had gotten up expecting to go to classes and a pre-race workout later now had only a few hours to get mentally and physically prepared for competition on the Housatonic. But this was still plenty of time for a women’s crew team that has proved to be so versatile in this young season, as the Bulldogs beat No. 18 Syracuse and Cornell to sweep the varsity races Friday afternoon.
“We found out at about 11:30 a.m. on Friday,” Charlotte Taft ’05, who would race in the second varsity eight boat, said. “The quick preparation shows a whole lot about the maturity of this team.”
“The coach called early Friday morning, and I quickly sent an e-mail out to the team,” Dimalanta said. “It was somewhat surprising, but we still had enough time to get into the racing mindset. We were all grateful to get the race in Friday, on Saturday we probably couldn’t have done anything.”
The Cayuga Cup is held annually between the three schools. Last season, it was held at its namesake Lake Cayuga in Ithaca, N.Y., where the Elis also claimed victory.
The first varsity eight, rowing in the middle lane, distanced itself quickly from the Big Red boat, but the Orange stuck around through most of the race. The Bulldogs “found a rhythm,” according to Taft, pulling away at around the thousand meter mark to finished slightly less than four seconds ahead of Syracuse at 6:03.9. Second varsity had a slightly easier time, besting second place Cornell by more than six seconds. Varsity four won by the largest margin of the three Yale varsity entries, with its 7:05.8 finish 21 seconds better than Cornell.
Although the novice squads did not place as well as their varsity teammates, finishing second to the Big Red in both fours and eights, the youngest Elis on the team showed improvement.
“The novices did an awesome job, and they were really cranking at the end and finished a close second,” Dimalanta said. “We’re a small team, and we’ve had to do a lot of shuffling on the novice squad, which takes its toll.”
Conditions were superb in Derby Friday afternoon, with a slight headwind dying down by the time the varsity races began and a strong tail current through all of the events. While a Saturday race may have been an impossibility given the weather, it no doubt could have affected the performance of the visiting team.
“There were great conditions, and it was a good move to do it in the afternoon, but it was probably pretty tough for Syracuse and Cornell, who had already spent most of the day traveling,” Dimalanta said.
Next Saturday, the team heads to Boston for the first time since the prestigious Head of the Charles last October, where they will face Boston University and Dartmouth.
“Boston has very challenging conditions, the wind is just ripping off the water,” Taft said. “The conditions are pretty intense, but looking down the road to later in the season, it’s good practice to handle anything.”