Two seconds made all the difference between keeping the Eads Johnson Trophy displayed on the rack at Payne Whitney and sending it back to Annapolis.
In an extremely tight battle, the Midshipmen of Navy edged the men’s lightweight crew team at neutral Lake Carnegie on the southern fringe of Princeton’s campus on Saturday. The varsity eights race at the annual Yale-Navy meet — named in honor of lightweight alum Eads Johnson, Jr. ’34 since 2004 — came down to the wire, with Navy’s 5:54.2 besting Yale’s 5:56.2. On a day when the biggest losing margin for Yale was still only a mere six seconds, the Midshipmen managed to nab their third Johnson Cup in four years.
In the second varsity race, the times were nearly identical to the first, but this time things fell in the Bulldogs’ favor. Yale overcame an early Navy lead to claim the race, 5:54.5 to 5:56.2. The Mids mustered their biggest advantage on the third varsity boat, where they bested the Elis in a 6:05.6 to 6:11.3 final.
The freshman races began with another tantalizingly close matchup, and the surging Bulldogs fell on the unfortunate side of a photo finish in a 6:00.5 to 6:01.1 defeat. The most resounding victory of the day came for the second freshman boat, who knocked off their Navy counterparts by over three seconds.
Yale and Navy have competed for the Johnson Trophy for four seasons, with the Mids taking home the hardware in every year except 2006. Eads Johnson Jr., who led the first Yale lightweight team to the Henley Regatta ever in 1934 and then went on to serve in the Navy before and during World War II, oversaw the first Johnson Cup race in 2004 at age 92.