The Yale lightweight crew left another opponent in its wake on Saturday, winning all four of its races against Dartmouth at home near the Gilder Boathouse.
The No. 2 varsity eight continued its unbeaten streak this spring with a victory over the No. 5 Big Green. With the win, Yale took the Durand Cup, which is awarded to the winner of Yale-Dartmouth varsity race, for the first time since 2009. While the Dartmouth varsity boat gave the Elis a close race, Yale’s second varsity, third varsity and freshman eights won by some of their biggest margins of the season.
With only two boats racing at a time, Yale was able to make take advantage of relatively smooth waters on the Housatonic River Saturday morning. The freshmen eight won the first race of the day by 6.2 seconds. They were followed by the second varsity eight, which pulled off its biggest win of the year, finishing 14.2 seconds ahead of the Big Green.
The varsity eight raced next, with the Durand Cup at stake. The boats kept even with each other for the first part of the race until the Bulldogs took a slight lead with a second-half sprint. The Elis completed the course in 5:40.1, three seconds ahead of Dartmouth for their fifth straight win.
Team captain Will Ferraro ’13 said that winning the cup, which is named after revered Yale lightweight rower and coach Loyal Durand III, has special significance to alumni of the team.
“I’ve met some alumni from the 1950s who rowed for Loyal Durand, so I know how much it means to them that we bring the Durand Cup back to Gilder,” he said.
Durand, who is currently a professor emeritus in the Physics Department at the University of Wisconsin, coached Yale lightweight crew from 1953–’57. In 1955, his first year as coach of the varsity boat, the Bulldogs went undefeated and won the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges championship.
The regatta ended with the third varsity eight race. With multiple Yale freshmen rowing their second race of the day, the Bulldogs still managed to blow away the Dartmouth boat. They finished in 5:57.7, with Dartmouth over 40 seconds behind at 6:40.1.
Last season, veteran Dartmouth coach Dan Roock left to join the Green Racing Project, which supports college rowers after graduation as they train for national and international competition. The Big Green have yet to defeat an Ivy League opponent in their first season under head coach Sean Healey.
After completing their dominant victory, the Bulldogs headed back to campus with their next regatta looming large in their minds. This Saturday, the team will compete against No. 1 Harvard and No. 4 Princeton on Lake Carnegie in New Jersey. Greg Hawkins ’15, who strokes the varsity eight, said he is excited to take part in this storied regatta at the varsity level for the first time.
“The field will be tight, and these crews are filled with competitors who have been training toward this for months,” he said.
The Harvard and Yale varsity eights both remain undefeated for the spring. Princeton’s only loss came against Cornell on April 13. The Elis will compete for two cups on Saturday; the Vogel Cup against Harvard, and the Goldthwait Cup against both Harvard and Princeton. Last year, Yale finished behind both Harvard and Princeton when the three crews raced in Cambridge.
“The Goldthwait Cup has always been very competitive since the early ’80s. I would expect the 2013 races to be no different,” head coach Andy Card said.
After that, the team will have to wait four weeks until its next competition, as rowers take their exams and finish the school year. After the end of the term, they will compete at the Eastern Sprints Regatta on May 19, and the varsity eight will head to Sacramento to compete at the IRA national championships, from May 30 to June 2.
“The level of competition is really heating up … We have three season defining races remaining and look forward to finding more speed in the weeks ahead. “ Hawkins said.
Last year, the Yale lightweight crew finished fourth at Eastern Sprints and third at the IRA National Championships.