Saturday’s events on the Housatonic were perfectly expressed by spectator Sarah Kabay ’08 when she said so eloquently: “Yale beasted past the [Radcliffe] squad.” Forsooth.
The return of the No. 2 women’s crew team after last week’s defeat was sorely felt by Harvard’s No. 4 Radcliffe crew team as the Elis dominated in four of the five races in which they were entered, winning the Nathanial Case Cup and defending their title for three consecutive years. Though the Yale team seemed to have few worries toward the end of the day, team members said the cup hardly seemed guaranteed the night before.
“Radcliffe is always very fast, but we didn’t know what to expect,” varsity 8 seven seat Jane Moore ’06 said.
The Bulldogs, who rowed to victory with comfortable margins of 10 seconds or more in three of their four wins, have evened the Case Cup record with Radcliffe — both teams have won 16 titles in the Cup’s history. Next year’s race, which will break the tie, is set up for epic proportions, varsity 8 four seat Jamie Redman ’08 said.
“The long and rich history of the Cup made for a high-intensity race that has primed next year to be amazing,” she said.
The closest win came for the 2nd varsity boat, which claimed a tight finish by a mere 1.9 seconds over Radcliffe. Their time of 6:40.1 was the fastest in the entire regatta. Yale’s 2nd Varsity is ranked No. 1 by the 2006 Eastern Association of Women’s Rowing Colleges Coaches Poll.
“We hadn’t had a race that close yet,” 2V seven seat Emily Matykiewicz ’09 said. “It was great to have a competitor so close because they pressed us and made us row faster.”
Although the Radcliffe team was chomping at the bit after last year’s 1V photo-finish — which was highly contested due to the incredibly small, three-inch margin of victory for the Elis — it was unable to squelch the Bulldogs’ synergy, which helped the team to a wide, 9.8 second victory, Redman said. The varsity Elis pulled strongly enough to make up the four seat stagger, necessitated by the turn in the Housatonic race course, in the first 50 strokes, she said.
“Our team is very committed to gaining speed, so the fact that we built energy early on really helped us move faster,” Moore said. “It’s a great position to be in.”
The only loss came in the Novice 8, which held a neck-and-neck race with Radcliffe until, with 500 meters to go, the Elis caught an over-the-head crab, stalling the boat for a number of seconds. Despite the major hold-up, the Novice squad, which was able to defeat Radcliffe’s “B” boat by 10.8 seconds, gave up only 6.4 seconds to the Radcliffe “A” boat.
Despite the fluctuating weather and the earlier-than-expected 8 a.m. start time — which forced the dedicated team to board a 6 a.m. shuttle — the home race was well supported by a strong fan base, Redman said. The large number of alumni and students helped motivate the team to their exceptional victory, she said.
“In a home race, there is a lot more energy, which helps build positive attitudes among the rowers,” she said. “At about 500 meters from the end, you can hear the cheering.”
The day’s racing was followed by a traditional Yale-Radcliffe brunch at the boathouse, a time to catch up with each other off the water.
“Especially in such a time-honored competition as this, it was good to see our competitors in a non-competitive environment,” Matykiewicz said.
Next weekend, the Elis will go up against Brown for the Anne Case Cup in Providence.