Last week, it was the Olympic Axe. This week, it’s the Blackwell Cup.

The Yale heavyweight crew team keeps bringing home the hardware. After outpacing both Penn and Columbia on the Schuylkill River on Saturday, the Bulldogs returned home undefeated in the nascent spring season. The Elis are currently ranked No. 6 nationally in the USRowing Collegiate poll.

The first varsity boat finished the race in 5:22.9 after battling a slight tail wind for much of the day. The Elis’ nearest competitor, the Quakers, finished nearly 10 seconds behind the Bulldogs with a time of 5:32.0. After two races against three Ivy League schools, those 10 seconds represent the Elis’ closest margin of victory this season.

But despite their early success, the Bulldogs believe they still have a lot to work on.

“The first boat needs to improve on everything,” coach John Pescatore said. “They need to improve on their fitness and their technique. They need to execute their race plan better and race a little tougher.”

The Elis will race against Princeton and Cornell at the Gilder boathouse next week before heading to the Eastern Sprints. The Tigers, currently ranked No. 7 nationally, will be looking to avenge a lopsided defeat to the Bulldogs last fall, when the Elis won the Princeton Chase for the first time in Pescatore’s four-year tenure at Yale by a comfortable margin of 13.8 seconds. That early victory, combined with a strong finish at the Head of the Charles, capped off an impressive fall season. By taking care of business against Dartmouth, Penn and Columbia, the Elis have started off the spring season strong and are hoping to build upon their success in the coming weeks. With the Eastern Sprints just two weekends away, the Bulldogs have emphasized the importance of “racing tough.”

“Racing tougher means that when it starts to hurt you don’t think about the pain, you think about wanting to win,” Pescatore said. “You’re pushing through the pain. Racing tougher means you’re prepared to deal with the suffering because you really want to win.”

Captain Patrick Purdy ’07 agreed with his coach’s sentiments.

“Coach Pescatore is absolutely correct,” Purdy said. “We just need to be absolute animals out there and attack with the ferocity and aggression that’s really necessary to do well.”

The Bulldogs’ ability to handle the tail wind bodes well for their performance in more adverse weather conditions. Pescatore said the team practices against a tail wind and a head wind everyday and that the Bulldogs will be focusing on what it takes to do well in both directions.

Although the team will be prepared for whatever conditions may arise, no one will be glued to the Weather Channel the day of the race.

“We’re not really worried about the weather,” Michael Smith ’07 said. “It’s the same for everybody.”

At the Eastern Sprints, the Bulldogs’ primary competition will be Harvard, Princeton, Brown and the University of Wisconsin. All four teams are ranked in the top 10 nationally and should provide the Elis with a good idea of where they stand heading into the IRA championships.

The lightweight crew team had their race against Dartmouth and Rutgers postponed to next Sunday at 12 p.m.