HEAVYWEIGHT CREW | Yale retains Olympic Axe

In its first home race of the season, the Yale heavyweight crew swept Dartmouth to retain the Olympic Axe for the 10th year in a row.
In its first home race of the season, the Yale heavyweight crew swept Dartmouth to retain the Olympic Axe for the 10th year in a row. Photo by Allie Krause.

On Saturday morning, the heavyweight crew team swept the annual Yale-Dartmouth regatta, retaining the Olympic Axe for the 10th straight year.

Yale’s varsity eight, junior varsity, third varsity and varsity four all bested their Dartmouth counterparts on the 2,000-meter course along the Housatonic River in the team’s first home race of the season. The Bulldogs are undefeated in all race categories against the Big Green since the 2008-’09 season and have won the battle axe trophy every year since 2004, when it first became the prize of the annual contest.

“It was a fantastic day of racing with strong performances from all boats,” team captain Jon Morgan ’13 said.

Morgan, who raced in the junior varsity boat, added that he thought the team showed some technical improvements since it lost three of four races to Brown two weeks ago. Yale’s third varsity and junior varsity won their races by large margins: 5:49.59 to 5:55.70 and 5:46.00 to 5:56.3, respectively. The varsity four also won by nearly 10 seconds, with a time of 6:27.0 compared to Dartmouth’s 6:36.1. Head coach Stephen Gladstone said he was especially pleased with the junior varsity squad’s performance, as it clocked in 10.3 seconds ahead of Dartmouth.

The varsity race had a much smaller margin of victory, with Yale finishing the course at 5:41.2 — just 2.7 seconds ahead of Dartmouth. Gladstone said although he was happy with the win, he thought the varsity squad had a better race two weeks ago when they fell to Brown, the defending Eastern Sprints champion, 5:25.5 to 5:27.0 on the Seekonk River in Providence, R.I.

“Any athlete knows when his performance has been up to standard, and the junior varsity had that on Saturday,” Gladstone said. “The varsity has full respect for Dartmouth, but the squad felt they did not find a rhythm to go at their optimal speed.”

Saturday marked the second race of the spring season for both teams, as Dartmouth fell to Columbia in its three eight-boat races on April 6. Varsity coxswain Oliver Fletcher ’14 noted that Dartmouth’s home river remains frozen longer than at other schools, which can put the Big Green at a disadvantage early in the season.

“Obviously it was good to get a win under our belt, but we saw from Saturday’s race that we haven’t quite managed to mesh all of the pieces together quite yet,” Fletcher said. “It was a little scrappy and disjointed, and we’ll be looking to remedy that in  the coming weeks. That’s not to take anything away from Dartmouth, who raced aggressively and with persistence, but we think there’s a lot more speed that we can unlock.”

The Bulldogs will race against Columbia and Penn next weekend in Philideplhia, Pa. The team will return to take on Cornell and Princeton at the Gilder Boathouse for the final home race of the season on April 27.

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