Elis recapture glory, Eisenberg

After a 19-year drought, the women’s crew team finally took back the Eisenberg Cup from Princeton, winning four of five races — two of them by gaps of barely more than a second.

The red-hot No. 4 Bulldogs, who have yet to take a loss in 2007, eked past the No. 9 Tigers on Saturday in the first home regatta of the spring season. With the sun out and a fast tailwind, the varsity eight managed to finish under the six-minute mark, clocking in at 5:58.0. But even with such a rapid finish, the Tigers put up a valiant fight and dealt the Eli varsity eight its narrowest margin of victory so far. The Bulldogs pulled in just 1.7 seconds ahead, which made the race all the more exciting, sixth seat Christine Geiser ’07 said.

“It was the closest margin of victory so far simply because they were the fastest crew we’ve raced so far,” she said. “It was exciting to have a crew next to us for the whole race. And this was by far the best team finish we’ve had against Princeton since I’ve been at Yale.”

Even that wasn’t the closest race of the regatta, though. The second varsity eight finished with a time of 6:10.0, barely a second faster than the Tigers’ 6:11.3. The first varsity four boat prevailed by a comparatively comfortable eight-second gap, finishing with a time of 6:47.3 to Princeton’s 6:55.0. But the second varsity four had a tougher time, coming in at 7:03.0 — a respectable mark, but not quite fast enough to defeat the Tigers.

The freshman races were perhaps the most out of the ordinary. Because Princeton does not have a novice eight boat, the Bulldogs were split into coxed fours. And just like in the varsity four race, the two boats finished first and third — the ‘A’ boat at 6:58.5 and the ‘B’ boat at 7:20.0, sandwiching the Tigers’ time of 7:05.7 between them. It was irregular to race a team without a freshman eight squad, but the split was a good experience, Ryan McCarthy ’10 said. Still, she is looking forward to recombining the fours next week.

“I really like rowing in small boats, so I enjoyed it,” she said. “And this week gave everyone in the freshman eight a chance to figure out what our strengths are and what we need to work on technically in order to make our boat really fly.”

The Elis take it back on the road next week, heading to Cambridge to face No. 20 Michigan State and No. 6 Radcliffe. What they’ll really be hoping for is good weather, head coach Will Porter said.

“The worst thing about the East Coast these days is the weather — we haven’t taken off the tights and long sleeves yet,” he said. “But the great thing is the high level of competition, all within a three-hour bus ride. Last week we raced soon-to-be-ranked Dartmouth, this week No. 9 Princeton, next week No. 6 Radcliffe, the following week we race No. 1 Brown — and then we get to race them all over again at the Sprints. It’s pretty clear that every week is a brawl in the Eastern Sprints League.”

And the squad knows it. As happy as they are about the weekend’s victory, team members are focusing now on what’s to come, varsity eight coxswain Emily Cleveland ’07 said.

“It was great to get Yale’s name on the Eisenberg Cup again,” she said. “But even so, we have two challenging crews left to face in our league [Radcliffe and Brown], so at this point we’re not dwelling on last weekend’s victory — we’re focusing on getting faster.”

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