The Yale Heavyweight Crew won its first race of the season against Dartmouth on Saturday, keeping the Olympic Axe at the Gilder Boathouse for another year.

Head coach John Pescatore said he was pleased with the victory, but he stressed that there is still work to be done.

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“All of our crews raced well, but they can and need to get faster yet,” Pescatore said. “A win is a win, and we’re glad to have it. We’ll just try to improve in all areas.”

Yale swept Dartmouth in all four races, with the varsity winning by a margin of 2.5 seconds, 5:39.4 to 5.41.9, repeating last year’s win in the same race.

The second varsity won by a wide margin of 11.6 seconds — 5:45.8 to 5:57.4. The third varsity performed even better, besting the Big Green by a margin of 23.5 seconds — 5:51.3 to 6:14.8. Finally, the freshmen eight won by a relatively closer margin of 2.5 seconds, 5:41.1 to 5:43.6.

“In both the freshmen and varsity races, the boats were overlapping the entire race, which made for exciting racing,” captain Andy Collard ’09. “It’s good experience to be pushed by another crew and be in a close race.”

Pescatore said the course was not a factor in the race. The conditions were normal and did not have a significant impact on performance, he said.

The Bulldogs will host Columbia and Penn on Saturday for the Blackwell Cup. Those will be the last races before Eastern Sprints on May 10.

“Columbia is coming off a very good race against Princeton and Penn is good team as well,” Collard said . “We expect both of them to be tough opponents.”