In their first regatta of the season, the men’s lightweight crew team had more than one opponent on the water.
At the Eads Johnson Cup last Saturday, the Bulldogs not only had to overcome the Naval Academy crews, but a violent spring deluge. Forecasts on race day called for strong winds over much of New England and two inches of rain in some areas. By the end of the regatta, conditions at the Mercer County, N.J. site had deteriorated so far that organizers had to cancel the final freshmen four race because one of the boats capsized. In the end, the high waters, strong headwinds, and Navy crews proved too much for the Elis to handle as the Midshipmen won every race.
Because of the inclement weather, the first start of the day, the varsity eight race, had been moved up from noon to 10 am. When the team arrived at 8 a.m. in Mercer, which is equidistant from New Haven and Annapolis, the water was flat and the air was still. In the span of an hour, though, the wind had increased enough to cause some serious chop, and the varsity race began in poor conditions. Throughout the day, the weather only worsened.
The wavy and choppy weather conditions created a challenge for both teams.
“It simply becomes a little more of a gut test,” team captain Alex Ramsay ’05 said. “In more waves and more wind, the boats are going to get battered around and oars are going to slap around on the water — you just have to drop the blade in and pull as hard as you can.”
According to Ramsay, rough weather can level the playing field between two crew teams.
“In flat water conditions, a more skilled crew will often be able to demonstrate their ability,” he said. “In rough water, skill doesn’t make that much difference.”
Indeed, some of the races were close — Navy won by only three seconds in the first varsity eight race and nine-tenths in the second varsity eight race. The Midshipmen put more distance on in the third varsity eight and novice eight race, winning each by 20 and 10 seconds.
Last year, Navy went undefeated on their way to winning three Eastern Sprints titles and the Intercollegiate Rowing Association championship.
“We have a lot of respect for the Navy team,” Ramsay said. “They have a very good crew.”
Ramsay added that, even though losing is always disappointing, he views these events as trial runs leading up to the main event of the spring, the Eastern Sprints.