The fall crew season kicked off with a home race this weekend at the Head of the Housatonic Regatta, and all three Eli crews proved they had not lost a beat coming off of last season.

The women’s team had three varsity boats in the top five, with its first varsity boat taking first place in the Collegiate Eights and its first freshman boat taking first in the Novice Eights.

The results were almost identical for the men. The heavyweight team also finished first in the Collegiate Eights event, and its first freshman boat won the Novice Eights. The first lightweight boat finished strong in second place, just three seconds behind the heavyweight’s first boat.

The women’s team comes into the fall with an impressive track record behind it – its first varsity boat went undefeated and won the NCAA National Championships last May. Captain Jennie Hansen ’08 said she thinks this weekend’s performance is a good indicator of a strong season ahead and hopes to build on last year’s success.

“This year’s results were pretty comparable to how we did last year at this time, since we usually have a strong showing at this race,” Hansen said. “People are stepping up to fill new roles, and we’re working well towards bringing up the entire team to a new level.”

Because the team did not race against its usual Ivy League competition, it went in with an internal focus, looking to perfect technique and rhythm, Hansen said.

The competition was not lacking, however. The women competed against Northeastern, University of Massachusetts and University of Rhode Island — all Division I schools.

“The Head of the Housatonic has grown into a legitimate fall regatta,” coach William Porter said. “Northeastern is always tough, [and] Umass and URI are capable of putting together fast crew.”

On the men’s side, both the heavyweights and lightweights fared well. Without the usual collection of Ivy League boats, the strongest competition was among the Yale boats themselves. In the Collegiate Eights, the lightweight 1V boat claimed second with a time of 13:38.694 — just three seconds behind the heavyweight 1V and two seconds before the heavyweight 2V.

In addition to keeping up with the heavyweights on the varsity level, the freshmen also held their own in the Novice Eights. The lightweight 1F boat placed third with a time of 14:07.499, behind the Yale and Brown heavyweight 1F boats, which finished first and second, respectively.

The heavyweights split their varsity eight boat into two fours, which allowed rowers to get a better feel for rhythm. Captain Jack Vogelsang ’08 said racing in smaller boats allowed them to have more influence on the boat and work on better rhythm, which will ultimately result in faster eights for competition.

“We expected to win, but it was a closer margin than I thought,” Vogelsang said. “We still have a lot of things to work on for the Head of the Charles, like getting stronger, but people are really stepping up to fill roles, and that’s what we need right now.”

In the two weeks before Head of the Charles — which will be hosted in Cambridge, MA — the teams will be finalizing lineups, getting stronger and improving the quality of rowing by focusing on timing and rhythm.

“I wouldn’t put too much stock into our results this weekend – it’s only a tune up for the Charles, which is really what we care about,” Vogelsang said. “We’re definitely looking forward to the racing. We’ll be going against teams we’ll face again in the spring, so we’ll get an early indicator of how the other programs are doing.”