LIGHTWEIGHT CREW | Elis continue winning streak in first Ivy races

The No. 2 lightweight varsity eight won both of its races this weekend in Philadelphia and Ithaca.
The No. 2 lightweight varsity eight won both of its races this weekend in Philadelphia and Ithaca. Photo by Catherine Foster.

The No. 2 Yale lightweight crew outraced all three Ivy League opponents it faced in a double-header this weekend to maintain its undefeated spring record.

The Bulldogs competed against No. 7 Penn and No. 5 Columbia in Philadelphia on Saturday before driving to Ithaca, N.Y. to face No. 3 Cornell on Sunday in their first Ivy League races of the spring season. The Elis won six of the nine races they competed in and the varsity eight came away with back-to-back victories on the weekend.

The level of competition against their Ancient Eight counterparts was greater than that of any of their previous regattas — the second varsity boat and the freshman eight each lost a race for the first time this season.

“We knew that this weekend was going to be a good test,” said Ilana Usiskin ’14, varsity eight coxswain.

On Saturday morning the Bulldogs were greeted by a strong tailwind and fast racing conditions at the Dodge Cup against Columbia and Penn. In the first race of the day, the third varsity four beat Columbia by 6.6 seconds to set the tone for the Bulldogs. After the third varsity eight race between Columbia and Penn, the Yale freshmen eight faced off against the Quakers. Although the top-ranked Bulldog freshmen had larger margins of victory against their common opponents at previous contests this year and were favorites going into the race, the No. 2 Quaker freshmen were able to pull ahead in the last kilometer and win in an upset.

Yale head coach Andy Card said that their freshmen’s performance boded well for the Quakers’ future.

“I would expect Penn to be a quality squad in the years ahead,” he said.

The second varsity eight followed with a victory over Columbia and Penn. The Elis edged the Lions with a 4.4-second victory, while the Quakers finished 16.7 seconds off the leaders.

In the next and final race the varsity eight took to the water looking to wrap up the morning with a win. The three boats began with a staggered start, but the Bulldogs quickly made up the distance. Soon after passing the 500 meter mark, Yale began to pull away from the other two boats. With the strong wind, Yale was able to post a blazing time of 5:30.5, 5.9 seconds ahead of Columbia and 9.4 ahead of Penn.

After successfully defending the Dodge Cup for the 10th straight year, the Bulldogs headed up to Ithaca for their Sunday morning race against Cornell. The Big Red was coming off of a sweep of Princeton the day before and its varsity eight had come close to beating No. 1 Harvard’s on April 13.

A highlight of the day was the freshman eight’s win, just a day after its tough loss to Penn. The Yale freshmen finished the race in 5:59.2, while Cornell pulled in at 6:02.8.

“I was proud of the way they were able to bounce back. They had a great race,” Usiskin said.

This time it was the second varsity eight that lost its first race of the year, falling to Cornell by just two seconds. Captain Will Ferarro ’13, who races with the second varsity boat, said that he and the other rowers would learn from the loss, just like they would from any race.

“There were both good parts of our race and areas to improve. Now it’s up to us to fix our mistakes,” he said.

In a matchup between the second and third-ranked varsity eights in the country, the Elis held off the Big Red for a 3.7-second victory.

The third varsity four and the third varsity eight also prevailed in their races, giving Yale four out of five for the day and completing the Bulldogs’ 650-mile road trip.

Yale will now gear up for its last home regatta of the season on Saturday, the Durand Cup against Dartmouth. The Big Green won the Durand Cup, which is named after a former Yale lightweight rower and coach, in 2011 and 2012 after the two crews finished in a dead heat in 2010.

“It will be quite a challenge to get it back into our trophy case,” Card said.

The Dartmouth lightweight crew was swept by Harvard in a home regatta on April 13.

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