Despite the rainy weather, the heavyweight crew team put on a show for any would-be spectators at the Gilder Boathouse on Saturday.
For the third time in as many meetings, Yale defeated Dartmouth to keep possession of the Olympic Axe trophy. The Bulldogs achieved the three-peat with dominance, winning all four races on the day. The two freshman boats turned in solid performances, notching wins by 11.5 seconds and 23.1 seconds. The most impressive results of the day were in the varsity division, though. While the varsity boat crushed the Big Green by 21.3 seconds, the second varsity won by 12.4, even after suffering an over-the-head crab within the last 350 meters of the race.
Although the times were fast Saturday, the team is judging its performance on an internal scale, captain John Petersen ’06 said.
“We were focusing on our own boat and not worrying about the other boat,” Petersen said. “Guys had an expectation to find an internal rhythm, a boat identity.”
Finding a boat identity is a crucial part of the spring season, Petersen said. During the fall and winter, the whole team is more of a unit as rowers train together for strength. In the spring, as the lineup becomes solidified, the team breaks into units comprised of the members of each boat.
“A lot of it is spending time with the guys, on and off the water, building a trust with teammates,” Petersen said. “On the water you focus only on your boat, looking to the guy in front of you and what the coxswain is saying.”
With two weeks having passed since the last time the Bulldogs raced at Stanford’s Windermere Classic, there has been time for this team chemistry to develop within boats.
“We were not focused on our opponent. We were focused on going fast for each other, on racing ourselves,” said Pascal Noel ’06, who raced in the first varsity boat this weekend. “You can never let your speed be determined by your opponent. The point is to maximize your potential every time you race.”
Yale head coach John Pescatore echoed similar sentiments.
“The internal focus is really important, just to get from point A to point B as fast as you can,” Pescatore said.
But aside from being mentally prepared, the team must also perform physically. Pescatore noted the team’s improvement in this regard.
“I think our speed is not bad. We’ve improved a bit since our first weekend in California,” Pescatore said. “I would say, essentially, that everybody is pulling harder.”
The Bulldogs also did not have to contend with the strong headwinds they faced at the Windermere. Although temperatures hovered in the low 40s during the heavy rain, the conditions on the Housatonic were friendly to rowing at least, with flat water and a slight tailwind. While Pescatore acknowledged that favorable conditions benefit every boat on the course, it seems the Elis do particularly well in flat water — the varsity boat’s lone win two weekends ago came against Oregon State in similarly calm conditions.