On a cool Saturday afternoon in upstate New York, the Yale women’s crew team glided to victory over the smooth waters of the Cayuga Inlet.

Elis won the varsity eight with a time of 6:46.9 this weekend, nudging Cornell (6:49.1) and Syracuse (6:57.2). The Bulldogs also took the second varsity eight race with a time of 6:50.4 and the freshman eight with a 7:00.8. The Big Red won the third varsity four race, beating the Elis 7:42.6 to 7:46.2. The Bulldogs’ win in Ithaca earned them the Cayuga Cup and kept them undefeated for the season.

“I like the course at Cornell because we race down a relatively narrow canal, which puts you right up close to the other crews and adds to the excitement,” Yale captain Litsy Witkowski ’04 said. “Our specific goal for this weekend was to have a very aggressive first 1,000 meters and then continue to push that speed through the remainder of the race. We had a good start, effective moods and strong base.”

The Bulldogs spent last week practicing and strategizing for Saturday’s race. They focused on maintaining intensity through the entire race, even when ahead.

“We emphasized that even if we find ourselves in the winning position in a race, it’s not enough to simply maintain our lead,” Jane Moore ’06 said. “We need to constantly push for more and more space in between our boat and the others. In easier races, such as the first few of our season, it’s too easy to get ahead quickly and back off our intensity level. It is this temptation that we need to fight.”

Saturday’s victory came on the heels of a spectacular opening to the 2004 season. After opening the season ranked third in the nation, the Elis defeated Penn and Columbia in their first regatta of the year. But the Bulldogs are not taking anything for granted.

“Success in these first two races does not mean we are resting,” Amanda Kendrick ’05 said. “We’re working to get even faster everyday. We’re on the path to accomplish our goal of winning Eastern Sprints with every boat.”

The Elis won even though they were not at full strength. Claire Norsetter ’05, one of the team’s key rowers, was sidelined with a cold.

“The varsity [boats] need a good week of rowing as a crew, which we have been unable to do all spring due to injury and sickness,” Yale head coach Will Porter said. “I look for them to pull it together this week and take the next step in speed. The second varsity did a great job and is starting to show their true strength. They controlled their race right from the first stroke.”

The Elis made the trip to Ithaca without Porter because of a pleasant surprise. Porter’s wife, Mia, gave birth to the couple’s third child, Berkeley, on Thursday. Freshman coach and former-Olympian Kate Maloney and third varsity coach Aaron Kaufman took Porter’s place at the helm. But even though Porter could not be at the regatta in person, he still managed to be part of the action.

“I got the play by play on the cell phone from my assistant coaches, and I watched the video tape,” Porter said. “The varsity crews and the assistant coaches all did a great job in stepping up to get the race done.”

The Bulldogs will face Boston University and Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H. next Saturday, when the Porters will not be expecting any more children.

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