The Yale freshmen lightweight and heavyweight crew teams competed at the Yale Freshmen Invitational Regatta this Saturday on the Housatonic River.

The regatta, which is a head race better known as the “Demolition at Derby” because of the frequent collisions between competing boats during races.

The race gave the freshmen and first-year walk-ons a chance to experience competitive rowing, pitting Yale’s heavyweights and lightweights against each other in one event.

Because this event is more about gaining experience than anything else, coaches make up two even boats that are expected to compete at similar speeds.

The Yale Lightweights’ B boat had a successful race, winning the head race in 14:12.9, while the A boat finished third in 14:18.1, just six seconds behind.

In their first competitive test, the combination of recruited athletes and walk-ons showed promise for the spring as they work to establish team chemistry.

“Working together with the walk-ons gives recruits a chance to share what we’ve learned over the years,” Tim Polmateer ’06 said. “Mixing the boats really helps the walk-ons improve quickly so they can do well in the spring when it really counts.”

The young lightweights are happy with their first season, but are more focused on the big picture.

“We learned a lot this weekend and we have five more days to improve before we head off to the Belly in Princeton to compete against the other Ivy League schools,” Polmateer said. “Each race is just one more step to our final the spring, Eastern Sprints.”

Yale’s heavyweight crew boats finished fifth and seventh, just seconds behind the lightweights. The Heavyweight A boat finished in 14:19.5.

The heavyweight newcomers similarly must adjust to the same mix of experience in each boat.

“The walk-ons have been thrown into the mix and responded really well as far as catching on to the sport,” Nate Wenstrup ’06 said. “It’s important for us to evaluate where we are now so that we can focus our training in the winter.”

But before winter training starts, the heavyweight squad will travel to Princeton to face-off against the other Ivy League freshmen crews.

“This race was a hint of the competition we will face this weekend at Princeton, where we go against some of the stronger programs from our league,” Westrup said. “We’ve been pushing ourselves this fall and are focused on having a good showing at our league debut.”