The men’s heavyweight crew team placed seventh overall in the Championship Eight race at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Cambridge, Mass., last weekend. With a time of 11:13.143, the Elis finished third among Americans university teams and a half-second behind the U.S. national team.

“I’m very happy with the finish,” head coach John Pescatore said. “It’s the highest finish we’ve had at least since 1999.”

The regatta drew teams from across both the United States and Europe, with Cambridge University and the Dutch Rowing Federation capturing the first and second spots in the heavyweight Championship Eight race, respectively.

Among American collegiate teams, Yale was beaten by Princeton and the University of California at Berkeley, which finished third and fourth, respectively.

Last year, Yale finished 12th overall and sixth among American collegiate teams.

“We’ve moved up a fair amount,” Pescatore said. “It’s mostly because the guys are working harder.”

Captain John Hopkins ’05 said the team was very pleased with its performance in Sunday’s competition, which he called “the biggest race of the fall.”

“This kind of race is a good race to perform well in and to row well in and to have momentum going into the long winter training season to come out strong in the spring,” Hopkins said. “The guys did what they needed to do.”

The Bulldogs raced two varsity-eight boats, in addition to one varsity-four crew and a freshman crew. Though the first varsity-eight boat captured seventh place, the other crews did not fare as well. The second varsity-eight boat placed 31st, while the varsity-four boat placed 18th.

Varsity-eight coxswain Alfred Shikany ’07 said the race was an “absolute blast” and added that the team is very optimistic about the rest of the season.

“It’s a good starting point, and it’s a nice step in the right direction,” Shikany said. “It was incredibly exciting.”

Although this race was important for gauging where the Bulldogs are relative to other teams, the team is working toward, and focusing on winning its spring races, including nationals and a face-off with Harvard, which Yale lost last season.

“While these fall races are fun and important, they’re stepping stones to nationals at the end of the year,” Shikany said. “Every workout, every hour of stairs you run, every morning you get in at 5 a.m. — it’s money in the bank towards the end of the year.”

Pescatore said his team is focusing on building up its strength and confidence with an eye toward the major spring races.

“The crews that were on top were really good,” Pescatore said. “They’re obviously really strong teams, and we have to work really hard to catch them.”

Men’s lightweight crew also competed at the Head of the Charles, placing sixth in varsity-eights with a time of 11:28.021, also behind Princeton. The lightweight youth fours boat placed second in its race.

The Bulldogs’ next race is the Princeton Chase on Nov. 7.

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