Last year, Yale lightweight crew won all its races against MIT and Georgetown. The team repeated the feat Saturday, sweeping all four races and earning the Joy Cup for the first varsity boat’s 1.1 second victory over the Hoyas.
“Our opponents in the lightweight league have, by rule, the same physical characteristics that we have … and this is a powerful crucible in which to be measured,” head coach Andy Card said. “In terms of wins and losses, we passed the test, since we finished ahead in each race.”
In every race, the Yale boat beat out its competitors by five seconds or more — except the first varsity race. There, the Bulldogs pulled out to a six-to-eight seat lead by the midway point of the race, only to see Georgetown counter and make up enough water in the second half to give Yale a narrow 1.1-second win.
Still, Card said there is more speed to be sought from every crew, a view echoed by captain Andrew Hakanson ’11 and varsity-boat stroke Will Zeng ’11.
“We need to focus on whatever race is next,” Hakanson said. “We must take it one race at a time and not get ahead of ourselves.”
Each week the team endeavors to learn something about itself or its opponents, and uses that knowledge to enable it to go faster, he added.
Zeng said that although there is more work to be done, the contributions of the sophomore rowers in the first varsity boat — Brendan Harrington ’13, Patrick O’Keefe ’13 and Tom Swartz ’13 — ought to be recognized.
“This is their first year in the varsity program and they’ve made the transition smoothly and effectively to be a strong part of our boat’s speed,” Zeng said.
Looking ahead, the Elis have just four races to go before the championship season begins with the May 15 Eastern Sprints.
Because the spring racing season is so short, it has a start and end, but no “middle,” Card said.
“Improvements have to be made quickly, holes have to be patched, and deficits have to be overcome,” he said. “The spring season is so intense, it’s what oarsmen live for!”
But he said it is still too early in the season to tell how fast the Yale boats are compared to those of other schools, something that Zeng explained is made more difficult by the tight competition at the top end.
Next weekend, the Bulldogs will take on Penn and Columbia on the Housatonic for the Dodge Cup. Card said he has not seen enough of either Penn or Columbia to make a judgment about their speed and how it will stack up against Yale, but Zeng said the team would aim to do what it does every week — move the boat as fast as possible.
“I look forward to having another home race where we can hopefully end up on top,” Hakanson said.
Spectators can watch this Saturday’s races from the Gilder Boathouse, which Card described as the “best facility to watch a regatta.” Racing kicks off at 9 a.m.