Crew ramps up the intensity, finishes on top

This weekend, aggression and mixing it up were key for Yale’s crew teams.

Coming off the Head of the Charles last week, the Bulldogs competed in the Princeton Chase, where the men’s heavyweights finished second and the women’s boat won the event. The men’s lightweights entered 11 boats into competition and pulled off a second-place finish in the open pairs.

Yale rowers ease into the Housatonic River in April 2006. The women’s crew won the Princeton Chase this weekend.
Ani Katz
Yale rowers ease into the Housatonic River in April 2006. The women’s crew won the Princeton Chase this weekend.

The women’s team found a successful medium by balancing aggression with technique. They had good races from start to finish, captain Jennie Hansen ’08 said.

“We did a good job of putting all the pieces together,” she said. “We were able to row aggressively and at the same time and row well — it’s really important to keep track of the small things and stay focused when you’re in the middle of the race.”

Since the Princeton Chase was the last race of the season, the team wanted to end on a strong note, Hansen said. Despite challenging conditions brought on by the wind and busy traffic on the course, the team stayed internally focused, which helped them accomplish their goal, as evidenced by the first varsity boat win, clocking in at 14:28.953.

“We experienced success in our racing results this season, and we also have a good idea of how we can improve for the spring,” she said. “We’re more aware of the work we’ll need to put in to get to the high level we’re aspiring to for our spring season.”

The first men’s varsity heavyweight boat started the race in the first position, with the Tigers on their heels. Right out of the gate, the heavyweights competed fiercely in what boiled down to a faceoff between Yale and Princeton. The Elis held them off for most of the race, but the Tigers started closing the gap in the second half and defended their home course successfully, finishing 10 seconds before the Bulldogs’ time of 13:13.490. Captain Jack Vogelsang ’08 said the Tigers rowed a good race and took advantage of their familiarity with their home course by executing turns well and finishing more strategically.

Vogelsang said that in addition to the goal of winning, the heavyweights were also very focused on working on the aggression that they did not have at the Head of the Charles. When they raced in Boston, the heavyweights were aiming for good rhythm, he said, but focusing on a perfect row made the team lose sight of the pressure needed to win races.

“Very often, you lull yourself into a sense that the row needs to feel relaxing, but you need to be convinced that you are about to break the equipment because you’re rowing so hard,” he said. “That was the kind of aggression we needed this week, and I think we did that well.”

For the lightweights, their focus was on mixing up the team to draw insight into each rower’s performance, captain Pete Reiser ’08 said. The Bulldogs had 11 boats entered — four 8s, three 4s, and four pairs — with a highlight performance from Reiser and Alex Rothmeier ’08, who finished second in the pairs with a time of 16:01.455.

“By putting a lot of guys in elemental situations, we were forced to improve and we had guys mixed in to facilitate that,” Reiser said. “We got a lot of valuable info out of this developmental experience, which is great because you can learn different technical things by rowing different boats.”

Reiser said that this weekend’s approach was very much team-oriented and that their goal was to embody a team effort by having all 32 members involved in the races. He added that by having rowers racing in different combinations and boats, they were able to determine successful rower combinations that could help them later on.

After feeling out racing styles and getting some regattas under their belts, the three crew teams will build on their fall experiences to prepare for their spring season. This weekend marked the wrap-up of their fall season, giving them the opportunity to focus on winter training and their spring season.

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