The women’s crew team kicks off its season this weekend, and rowers hope weeks of exhausting practices and revamped workout routines will make for smooth sailing at Saturday’s Head of the Housatonic regatta in Derby, Conn.

The Bulldogs have been training hard to build on their impressive record from last year, which included a victory at the Eastern Sprint Championships, a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championships and a run that ended in the semi-finals at the Henley Royal Regatta in the United Kingdom.

The Elis have been training hard, lifting twice a week and practicing on the water six times a week. In practice, they have been “even boating” or mixing crews instead of putting their best rowers in one eight boat.

Katie Curran ’06, the team captain, said she expects this weekend to kick off a strong season. Curran said the team’s general training has included long practice runs to rack up experience that will prepare rowers for races.

“This weekend is the jumping off point,” Curran said. “It is more a competition with ourselves. It is the beginning and we are looking forward to a good season.”

Christine Geiser ’07 said that head coach Will Porter’s motto for the year is “the fittest Yale women’s crew team ever.” Porter has posted a chart where rowers can log how many workouts they do, which he jokingly calls the “Frequent Flyer” chart.

Geiser said the chart has been more than a gimmick — it has helped rowers improve their time.

“It has helped us push each other,” Geiser said. “Rowing is more about team work.”

Although the varsity boat has many returning members, the overall team is rather young. They have ten strong freshmen, who Gelser thinks are competitive and a positive influence on the team. She said this year’s team has a dynamic hiearchy and will not rely on any particular rower.

“[How far] we go this year will depend on the desire and hard work of this year’s team,” Curran said. “It is a young team, but the younger ones are stepping up.”

Emily Mapykiewicz ’09 will be the only freshman racing in the varsity boat this weekend. She hopes to row well and hold onto her varsity spot.

“It will be really interesting to see the difference in competition between high school and college rowing and the whole atmosphere of the day,” Mapykiewicz said.

The Elis, seeded second behind the Senior National Team, are also preparing for the Head of the Charles in two weeks, which Curran said should be more competitive. The race, the biggest of the fall, features many many international crews.

“This weekend and the race in two weeks will be a good indication of how we are doing,” Curran said.