With one last chance to set the stage for the spring season, the Yale men’s lightweight crew team made its final regatta count.
The Eli varsity crew won the lightweight eights race at the Princeton Chase regatta on Sunday over a field of IRA crews that included Princeton and Harvard, both of which placed above Yale at the Head of the Charles last week.
“We had the fastest time of any crew on the lake today, including the heavyweight men,” head coach Andy Card said in an email to the News. “An unexpected result, and I hope that it shows the speed of our league to everyone.”
Yale’s time of 13:05.743 was fastest of the lightweights by nearly 15 seconds. Princeton finished the course in 13:20.601 for second place, and Cornell came in at 13:22.461 for third.
The event was a head race, meaning the crews staggered their starts and raced against the clock instead of each other. Harvard was the first to start the varsity eight race, followed immediately by the Yale crew. The Bulldog eight were fast enough to overtake their rival just before the halfway point of the race. Card noted that passing at this level of competition is rare.
“The start was an important moment for us,” captain Matt O’Donoghue ’14 said in an email to the News. “We wanted to get right into our rhythm. Our stem pair of Austin Velte ’16 and Brendan Harrington ’14 did a great job of getting us on pace and driving it all the way down the course.”
Harvard, the second place finisher at the Head of the Charles, missed a buoy near the end of the race, and the one-minute penalty knocked the crew down to 21st place out of 31 boats.
At last year’s Princeton Chase, Yale finished second, less than two seconds behind the Harvard crew. The Crimson would go on to win the IRA championships in the spring.
“[The] key to success [on Sunday] was having the whole crew commit to charging hard from start to finish,” O’Donoghue said. “Cohesion and boat unity go a long way, and we stuck together today.”
Yale’s B boat in the varsity eight rowed to an eighth place finish, ahead of the A boats from Columbia, Dartmouth, Georgetown and Harvard. The Eli C boat finished in 24th.
The freshman boat got its first experience racing as a group in the freshman eights event and finished 10th overall, but was fifth among the lightweight boats in an event that featured both heavyweights and lightweights.
“Those guys have great attitudes and work ethics, so I’m excited to see them come together as a unit in the spring,” O’Donoghue said.
Though the regatta hosted heavyweight races, Yale did not send any heavyweight boats to the event.
The Eli lightweight four boats finished second, fourth, 10th and 21st out of the 32 crews in the fours event.
Most of the lightweight team is done for the fall, but Yale’s novices will get to race in the freshman-only Green Monster race at Dartmouth next weekend. The Elis did not participate in the race last season.
According to O’Donoghue, each school at the Green Monster will race two boats that are close in speed to give the freshmen as much competitive racing experience as possible.
“The aim is for each team to race two shells that are of equal speed, then add the time of both shells to get an overall winner,” Card said. “This is a great race for the walk-ons, and we are really looking forward to going up to the North Country and throwing down.”
The race begins at 10:00 a.m. in Hanover, N.H. on Saturday.