There were five new people in the boat, but the result was the same as usual for lightweight crew.
A year after the lightweights became the first college team to win its division at the Head of the Charles since 1979, the Elis’ first varsity boat repeated as Lightweight Eight champions. The Bulldogs stroked their way to a nine-second win in very fast racing conditions Sunday on the Charles River in Boston.
“It’s a challenge creating a new boat,” Eric Feins ’03 said. “It was a new accomplishment for all of us.”
The Bulldogs finished nearly nine seconds ahead of the second-place New York Athletic Club boat. The Elis’ junior varsity boat, rowing under the name of the Peck’s Boat Club, finished fourth in the race, 28 seconds behind the winning pace.
“That was incredible,” said Feins of the JV performance, which bested both Harvard’s and Princeton’s varsity teams. “As thrilled as we were with our varsity winning, we were equally, if not more, thrilled with the junior varsity boat.”
Sunday’s weather was superb for rowing, though somewhat tricky, Feins said, as the breeze shifted from a tailwind to a headwind at different points on the course. The Elis’ time of 14:35.51 on the three-mile course — nearly one full minute faster than their winning effort in 2000 — was the fifth fastest winning time in the history of the 37-year-old event, indicative of the fast rowing conditions.
In the Youth Four event, the freshmen boat finished fourth against both college freshman and high school competition. In the Lightweight Four race, the Eli entry finished 13th.
In heavyweight racing action, the men’s varsity boat finished 13th in the Championship Eight race.
The Bulldogs’ time of 14:51.259 was 42 seconds behind the winning U.S. Rowing team and over 20 seconds behind the top college competition, third place Harvard.
The Eli four-man boat finished eighth in the Championship Fours race and in a positive showing, the Eli freshmen eight boat finished seventh overall and third among college crews in the Youth Eight race.
Although they did not bring home any trophies, the women’s crew team also felt encouraged by their performance at the Head of the Charles.
The Eli women finished fifth overall in the women’s Championship Eight. But Princeton and Ohio State were the only colleges in the strong 53-team field to beat Yale.
Women’s head coach Will Porter said one of the biggest challenges during the race was the Elis’ starting position in the staggered event — directly behind a talented Syracuse crew (the 11th place finisher) and in front of the Southern California squad (10th place). Sandwiched between tough competition, Porter was pleased by how his team responded.
“The thing that I take out of this weekend is the ability to perform under pressure when it is expected of us,” Porter said. “We didn’t do that very well last year, but I am encouraged by what I have seen this fall.”
The seventh place overall finish by members of the second varsity boat in women’s Championship Fours is another sign of encouragement for the team.
“They did a great job showing our depth,” Porter said.
In the women’s Youth Eight race, an Eli boat rowed by recruited freshmen finished fifth overall and third among college teams, behind only Harvard and the University of Virginia.