The men’s lightweight and heavyweight crew teams asserted their dominance in their fall season openers on Saturday, winning every event in the Head of the Housatonic against Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges (EARC) opponents Brown, Williams and Columbia.
With their first race of the season behind them, the Eli rowers now prepare for the much larger Head of the Charles in Boston, where they will compete against every crew that they will face in the spring season.
Because of the smaller scale of the regatta and its proximity to New Haven, Yale was the only team to send a full fleet of collegiate boats to the event, which began in Shelton, Conn.
The other collegiate boats racing were heavyweight crews from Brown and Williams and a Columbia lightweight boat.
“We had a strong performance all the way through the team, from the guys who raced on the varsity right down to the guys who were racing for the first time for Yale,” said lightweight captain Matt O’Donoghue ’14.
The Eli heavyweight varsity eight placed first overall in the collegiate eights with a time of 13:24.7 over the 2.7-mile course. The next best heavyweight opponent was Brown’s varsity eight, nearly 40 seconds behind with a time of 14:02.6.
The second Eli heavyweight boat came in 10 seconds behind the Brown heavyweights in 14:12.9, and the second lightweight boat finished behind the Williams heavyweights but ahead of Columbia’s lightweight eight.
Yale’s lightweight first boat finished in 13:48.6, ahead of every boat except the Yale heavyweight first boat.
The Head of the Housatonic was a head race, meaning that the boats staggered their starts by 10 to 30 seconds rather than beginning at the same time. The crews raced against the clock instead of each other and found out their placing after every boat had finished.
The Yale heavyweight varsity eight started behind their lightweight counterparts but overtook them midway through the race.
“It certainly feels like a full-on race,” heavyweight captain Zachary Johnson ’14 said. “But you usually don’t have the same side-by-side intensity that you would get in the spring season where everyone starts at the same time.”
The Eli lightweights also dominated in fours, an event that occurs in the fall but not as often in the spring. Three of the Yale lightweight fours finished ahead of all other competition, while the heavyweight team did not race a four boat.
Johnson said that the heavyweight squad is still getting used to rowing at a higher stroke rate early in the season.
“The more time we spend at high rates and the more power pieces we do, the better we can execute them while racing,” Johnson said.
Lightweight coach Andy Card also got in on the action in the regatta, placing second out of 16 rowers in the Masters singles event.
Each year, Card said that he usually races in the Head of the Housatonic, the Head of the Charles and the Eastern Sprints.
“I love rowing, and love to race on the same day as the guys,” Card said in a message to the News. “It’s just a lot of fun.”
The Yale freshman boats raced in the regatta but did not have any freshman opponents to compare against. The lightweight freshmen will be able to face competition at the Princeton Chase on Oct. 27.
All of the Eli boats will be able to test themselves against more competition at the Head of the Charles, the largest two-day regatta in the world.
“We’re really excited for Head of the Charles,” Johnson said. “As a team, we’re really driving forward, in practice we’re going to be working on moving the boat faster every day. Every time we come off the water we want to feel like we’ve gotten a bit better.”
The Head of the Charles will start on Oct. 19 in Boston.