It took about 19 seconds for Cornell and Syracuse to fully realize who they were messing with.
In that same 19 seconds, the Elis had enough time to recollect, grab some air, and wait for the Big Red and the Orange to catch up to the finish line. And that’s not even the best of it.
Last Saturday, the women’s crew team won the Cayuga Cup over Syracuse and Cornell, defending its title as last year’s winners. The Bulldogs, ranked No. 4 in the country by the US Rowing Collegiate Poll, won three of the four races they entered, the largest margin of victory being 25 seconds in the second varsity eight.
“We row with the idea that no margin is big enough,” varsity coxswain Emily Cleveland ’07 said.
Despite the minor 1.5 second loss in the novice eight to Cornell, the whole team looked strong, said Jo Hess ’06, who rows second seat in the varsity eight.
The Elis obliterated both Cornell and Syracuse in the varsity eight, second varsity eight and the varsity four, in which Yale rowed two shells. The closest margin was 18 seconds.
“Our overall fitness and ability to handle the conditions led to some great racing,” said Jamie Redman ’08, fourth seat in the varsity eight.
While the team has been going strong in the past weeks, the novice eight was not able to pull out a win over the Big Red. Despite a boat’s length lead in the last leg of the race, the Bulldogs were narrowly passed.
“When we were up, we didn’t drive the nail in the coffin,” said Alana Riksheim ’09, fifth seat in the novice eight. “We got a little panicked. Mostly, we were just frustrated with our own performance because we know it was not our best rowing.”
Riksheim said the novice have put the upset behind them, taking Saturday’s race as a learning experience and coming away with fuel to do better in the next race.
Following the team’s call of “no fear and no regret,” the novice team shows no sign of either.
“We know what we have to do. … We will definitely bring more aggression [next time],” Riksheim said.
For the other three races, the only holdup was the rotten weather. Although the morning began with strong head winds and rain, the weather let up slowly as the day continued. Luckily, the team was not fazed under the detrimental conditions, Hess said.
“While it was definitely challenging, [the team] really handled it well. It gave us a chance to focus on how we were rowing,” Cleveland said.
Cleveland said that despite the troublesome weather, most of the races finished according to plan.
“We kept it competitive and really did our thing,” she said.
But no matter how competitive they are or how strongly they row, the Elis never rest on their laurels. Approaching each race without expecting anything helps keep them ready for action, Cleveland said.
“This isn’t the end. We’re always excited about getting faster as the season continues,” Hess said.
With two amazing victories packed away, the Bulldogs will host their first home race on the Housatonic against Boston University and Dartmouth this weekend.