Despite windy conditions on the Housatonic River on Saturday, Yale lightweight crew left Columbia and Penn in its wake for a nine-second victory in the Dodge Cup.
Weather was not enough to stop the second varsity boat, which won its race by 14 seconds. The freshman eight, on the other hand, was swamped and almost sunk midway through its race on the Housatonic River Saturday.
“My old coach used to call conditions like Saturday’s ‘Victory At Sea,’” said head coach Andy Card. “At one point I thought I saw a U-boat snorkel, but I can’t be sure.”
It was a disappointing day for all the coaches, Card said, because none of them got to see a contest that was decided solely by the skill and condition of the rowers.
Though captain Andrew Hakanson ’11 said he had never seen conditions like Saturday’s, he felt the crews handled the conditions well.
“It is hard to accurately judge our performance, however I feel we did a decent job of adapting to the conditions,” he said. “We were presented with a challenge from both our opponents and the weather; we did a good job rising to the occasion of both.”
Card explained that the results from the Saturday races cannot be taken at face value because no one can tell how much water each boat took on, and hence how much additional weight each crew had to pull through the water.
Still, the races were the third-to-last the Bulldogs will compete in before the championship season begins with the May 15 Eastern Sprints.
Next week the Elis will have a doubleheader on the Housatonic, taking on Cornell and Delaware in the morning and Dartmouth for the Durand Cup in the afternoon.
“With the heats and finals in the champions races we’ll need to be prepared to race twice in one day, so we’re looking forward to this upcoming doubleheader at home as an intense test in that regard,” said Will Zeng ’11, who sits in the stroke seat of the varsity boat.
Card said all three crews the Bulldogs will face next week “look pretty damn fast by all accounts,” adding that he expects races of greater intensity because of how close last year’s races were. Last year, Yale’s and Dartmouth’s varsity boats finished in a dead heat, which Card said was the first time he could remember such a result occurring.
“I think this weekend will be telling,” Hakanson said. “Our search for speed continues. Our day of judgement will come.”
After next Saturday’s races, the team will only have the Goldthwait Cup against crews from Harvard and Princeton before the championship season.
Card reiterated that there is no “middle period” to the lightweight crew team’s season, explaining that teams develop at a rapid pace as the weather warms and the first month of competitive training is complete.
“I can’t say our improvement is linear with any honesty, but we do focus on getting better every day,” he said. “We are still waiting for the truly stable weather of a traditional warming April, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards these days, right?”
Racing will kick off in Derby, Conn., from 9 am Saturday, and spectators can look on from the Gilder Boathouse.