It may not be spring yet, but the lightweight crew team already looks in top form.

Sunday at the Princeton Chase, the lightweights had no trouble rowing past the competition, claiming victory in its fourth straight race. The varsity eight-man boat finished over 10 seconds ahead of second-place Princeton. And after finishing fourth at the Head of the Charles the week before, the Junior Varsity boat came in sixth Sunday, beating all the other JV squads.

“I would characterize our teams portfolio of overall performance this weekend as strong to quite strong,” lightweight captain Ian Malloch ’02 said.

The lightweight eight finished in 12:53:57, with the JV squad crossing the finish line in 13:17:40.

“Each race we’ve done has been better than the last one,” said Jimmy Larsen ’03, who rows in the third varsity eight squad. “We become more of a cohesive unit and realize how best to work together.”

The Bulldogs had beautiful fall weather for their trip down to Princeton. Although there was a strong breeze for the lightweight eight race, the winds calmed down by the afternoon’s lightweight four race.

“[The wind] effects how choppy the water is, but every team has to deal with the water so it doesn’t really give one team an advantage,” Larsen said.

The lightweight four finished third behind Princeton and Harvard. Yale’s time of 14:31:78 was six seconds behind the Tigers.

“We’ve been working on making each stroke better than the last one,” Larsen said. “The name of the game is hull speed.”

The Eli women finished second only to Princeton, who also bested them at the Head of the Charles. The Bulldogs, however, cut Princeton’s margin of victory by five seconds from last week. In Boston, Princeton crossed the finish line 24 seconds before Yale. Sunday, the gap was only 19 seconds, with the squad boasting a time of 14:27:01.

“The varsity wanted to beat Princeton or come as close to Princeton as possible and we wanted the JV to come in the top 10,” Melissa Merritt ’03 said. “Although we didn’t beat Princeton, we closed the margin on them and JV came in ninth.”

The JV boat was blocked by Boston College’s varsity eight, but was happy to come in ahead of Princeton on its home course, Gwynna Biggers’02 said.

Merritt, a member of the varsity eight boat, said the windy conditions played a factor in the races Saturday.

“During our race in particular, it was kind of windy for the first half of the race,” Merritt said. “But once we got into a protected area we were able to get into a rhythm.”

Yale will send its novice squads to its invitational this Saturday and to the Belly of the Carnegie, where they will try to keep shaving seconds off their racing times.

“One thing that our coach has been telling us, everybody rows hard at these races, you have to be the people who row well,” Merritt said.

With the fall racing season over for the varsity boats, the Bulldogs have a long winter of indoor training ahead of them in preparation for the spring races. The sprint races in the spring require a different conditioning program than the fall chases.

“We will now start preparing for shorter races, and through the winter improve our aerobic and anaerobic base,” Malloch said. “Building a strong base will let us hit the ground running when we come back to the water in the spring.”