Heavyweights top Penn, Columbia

With the EARC Sprints coming up in three weeks, the heavyweight crew team is picking up steam.

After a rocky start to the spring season in California over spring break, the Bulldogs have come back to trounce Ivy League rivals on consecutive weekends. Last weekend, Dartmouth was the victim, incapable of breaking Yale’s monopoly on the Olympic Axe trophy. This weekend, the team traveled to New York to face Columbia and Penn for the Blackwell Cup.

The Elis dominated the varsity and second varsity races, with the team’s only loss coming in the freshman division. In a slight cross headwind, the varsity clocked a winning time of 6:09.80 to Penn’s 6:20.12 and Columbia’s 6:26.96. The margin of victory was even greater in the 2V race — Yale beat Columbia by nearly 18 seconds, posting a winning time of 6:19.40.

This weekend was a crucial warm-up event for the heavyweight team. Next weekend, the Elis face Cornell and No. 1-ranked Princeton at the Carnegie Cup. Coming into the race, the team had focused on maintaining the momentum from the win over Dartmouth, team captain John Petersen ’06 said.

“We expected to do well, and I think we executed what we wanted to do,” Petersen said. “Our goals were similar to last weekend — definitely finding that internal boat character.”

A big part of creating the team chemistry is spending time in the boat with the crew, so keeping the lineup consistent from event to event helps. This weekend, the lineup in the varsity boat was exactly the same as the crew that overran Dartmouth.

“I expect the same for next weekend; it definitely makes a difference to have your boat together,” Petersen said. “However, there is something to be said for shifting things around and trying new options.”

The Carnegie will be a big test for the Bulldogs, Petersen said. It will be the first time the Elis will have seen Princeton since the fall and an opportunity to race a top-ranked opponent.

“I think that the team is really excited about working really hard this week and putting us in a position where if we work really hard on Saturday, we’ll be able to come out on top,” said Pascal Noel ’06, who has rowed on the varsity boat the past two weekends.

Petersen said he believes the team has a good deal of speed that it must find in the coming weeks.

“I think this week is going to be really competitive between our boats on the water and extremely focused,” Petersen said. “There will probably be some lineup switches, some seat racing, and trying out some new guys, which is good, because it keeps people on edge a little bit.”

After the racing, Petersen said, the crews met with Yale head coach John Pescatore to discuss the results. Although the team came up with wins in two out of the three races, Petersen said the rowers acknowledged that the technical aspect of their rowing needed improvement. As the team gears up during the week for its biggest race yet this spring, technique will be an area of focus for the Bulldogs.

“We have worked really hard all winter, and a lot of guys got fit and fast,” Noel said. “However, we know we won’t realize our potential until we maximize our speed on the water by using good technique.”

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