The last time the Yale heavyweight crew team lost, most Elis were still shopping for their Halloween costumes.
The Elis’ defeat of Princeton and Cornell in Saturday’s regatta guaranteed that the Bulldogs would remain undefeated heading into the all-important Eastern Sprints on May 13. The Bulldogs outpaced both the Tigers and the Big Red with a time of 5:28.0 to win the Carnegie Cup for the first time in head coach John Pescatore’s five-year tenure at Yale.
“We demonstrated a lot more aggression, and ultimately a few things fell our way,” Pat Purdy ’07 said. “Overall, it was a big step in the right direction.”
The Elis had already knocked off the Tigers earlier in the year at the Princeton Chase in October, which they won by an astounding 13.8 seconds. Although the margin of victory was much closer this time around — a little over two seconds — the end result was the same.
After last week’s win over Columbia and Penn, Pescatore emphasized the importance of “racing tougher” and fighting through pain. On Saturday, the Elis demonstrated their resolve by holding off a strong Princeton charge in the third 500 meters.
“We definitely raced tougher. We showed a lot more determination, especially in the first half of the race,” Purdy said. “There was just a lot more grit and rage behind our strokes.”
The Bulldogs’ win at the Carnegie Cup was just the latest in a series of firsts. In the fall, the Bulldogs placed third at the Head of the Charles and won the Princeton Chase for the first time in Pescatore’s tenure as head coach.
It comes as no surprise that this is also the first year in which each player on the team was recruited by Pescatore. The benefits of four years of training with the same coach have been undeniable on a team that is heavily reliant on its seniors for both leadership and talent.
“The work ethic has steadily grown each year that I’ve been on the team,” Purdy said. “There are a lot of people that are very committed to winning and that was one of the things that we’ve tried so hard to do.”
Despite coming off one of the most impressive spring victories in recent history, the Bulldogs realize that there is plenty of room for improvement. With the Eastern Sprints just two weeks away, the Elis will be focusing on racing “cleaner” and improving their fitness and endurance.
“I think all of the boats can row a little bit cleaner, a little more efficiently,” Pescatore said. “Racing clean is when you row a stroke without a lot of splashing going on. When there’s a lot of splashing, it typically means you’re a little bit off balance and your timing is a little off.”
On the lightweight side, the Elis competed twice in the same weekend because of a nor’easter that caused last week’s match against Dartmouth to be postponed. On Saturday, the Bulldogs raced against Harvard and Princeton and were one race away from sweeping the entire event.
Unfortunately, that race was the most important one. The Elis’ first varsity boat finished 10 seconds behind the winning squad from Harvard with a time of 6:02.8. In comparison, the second varsity boat and the first freshman boat both finished in under 5:58.
“All of the boats are doing pretty well and we have high expectations for the [Eastern] Sprints,” Peter Barkett ’07 said. “We’re still working on the varsity boat and trying to find more speed.”
On Sunday, Dartmouth pulled ahead of Yale in the last 500 meters to edge out the Bulldogs in the first varsity race. In one of the stranger sequences of the season, the second freshman boat won in dominating fashion but was subsequently disqualified for cutting a buoy on the turn.