Last Saturday was a day of firsts for the Yale crew teams: the first regatta, the first official event for the freshmen rowers and, most importantly, the first victories of the fall season.

Both the men’s heavyweight and women’s crew teams successfully defended their home waters at the Head of the Housatonic this past weekend. The men’s first varsity dispatched their opponents in dominating fashion, winning their race by 32 seconds with a time of 13:24.781. The women’s team found success as well, taking the collegiate eights in the Head of the Housatonic regatta for the seventh consecutive year in a time of 15:27.280.

“We thought all the boats had a good race,” said Hunter Swartz ’07, the stroke for the winning varsity boat. “I’m pleased with the results, but we can still improve upon them.”

The Head of the Housatonic was important in preparing for next weekend’s Head of the Charles and allowed both teams to gauge their performances after a month of grueling practices. Liam Beedling ’08 said the men’s team looked good this weekend and that he could not remember being part of a better crew.

“It was the best start we’ve had since I’ve been here, and we’re well on our way to meeting the goals we have set,” he said.

Although anticipated rival Brown failed to start a boat at last weekend’s regatta, Yale’s besting of Trinity College, a historically successful program that consistently fields teams with good boat speed, was an important accomplishment. The strong performance has boosted the team’s confidence and has increased the Elis’ expectations for the fall season. Swartz hopes to build upon last year’s success and expects a competitive year.

“We expect to do pretty well this year,” he said. “We have a very big sophomore class, and the freshmen look strong.”

As opposed to previous years when the team had struggled to fill three boats, this year’s heavyweight crew team boasts exceptional depth. The large size of this year’s sophomore class should help the team to overcome the grind of the fall season and to prepare themselves for the championship races in the spring. Although the freshmen heavyweight team lost to Brown by four seconds, freshman coach Mark Davis was still pleased with his team’s performance.

“It was more important to have a good row, a good first race of the year,” he said.

On the women’s side, Yale found the high levels of success it has become accustomed to in recent years. In addition to the Elis’ strong showing in the collegiate eights, the Bulldogs also finished well in the collegiate fours, falling to a strong Northeastern team by a slim three-second margin.

“It’s our home course; we always want to go out there and defend it,” Jennie Hansen ’08 said. “But at the same time, we always go in expecting Northeastern to give us a good race.”

The Head of the Housatonic was essential for measuring the team’s performance in a competitive environment, as opposed to the past month’s controlled practice conditions. Hansen said she believed it was a perfect starting point for the team and provided tangible results from the first month of practice.

“I think the team looks really great this year,” Hansen said. “We have a really strong freshman class, a lot bigger than it has been in previous years, and it gives us a lot of depth to work with.”

Both the women’s and the men’s teams have their work cut out for them as the Head of the Charles ­— the premiere racing event of the fall rowing season ­— is just two weeks away. With their strong starts this weekend, the Bulldogs look to be in great shape as they enter more competitive races.