The women’s crew conquered the Class of 1985 Cup for the 11th consecutive year on Saturday in Derby, Conn., when they won the varsity eight race. The crew, currently ranked fourth in the nation, left No. 20 Dartmouth and Boston University in their wake in all five races on the Housatonic River.

The Elis’ second varsity team finished 12 seconds ahead of runner-up Dartmouth, while the varsity four beat Boston University by approximately seven seconds.

The first 2,000-meter race began at 8:30 a.m. at the Gilder Boathouse as the teams rowed in a 10-14 mph tail current. This was the first time the Elis raced at home this season, after having two road trips to open the season.

“The energy from our spectators coupled with our familiarity with the course definitely contributed to team speed,” team captain Taylor Ritzel ’10 said.

Yale’s varsity eight team took the lead shortly after the teams had been rowing for 500 meters. Ritzel said the team focussed on speed and pushed as hard as they could, adding that, with no way to stop the other boats, the Elis instead had to focus on their own.

“The conditions were quite fast and I was impressed with the level of racing from our competitors,” she said.

“Coming out of the turn, we were able to push ahead and take the lead,” added coxswain Mia Kanak ’10.

The crew meets before every race to determine their strategy and discuss possibilities for the breakpoint, a critical moment when the Elis take advantage of an opportunity to push forward and take the lead. But as Ritzel explained, most of the time this is determined by the coxswain during the race.

“The most important thing is communication,” she said. “All the members have to be on the same page and know what the goals are.”

Ritzel said their goal for the season is to win the National Championships, and since a lot can change throughout the year, the Bulldogs have to constantly compete against other teams to ensure that they maintain competitive times.

“We are constantly working hard to improve ourselves,” Kanak remarked.

Saturday’s victory follows the Bulldogs’ victory over Michigan State University and Buffalo University at Ithaca, N.Y. last week, despite the fact that at the time some of the members were facing illness.

The Elis are now halfway through the season and will race No. 1 Virginia and No. 6 Princeton for the Eisenburg Cup at Lake Carnegie, New Jersey this Saturday.