A week after beating Columbia and Penn by open water, Yale heavyweight crew’s varsity boat found itself in the opposite position, falling to Princeton and Cornell by 11 seconds on Lake Carnegie Saturday morning.
“Our boats didn’t show up on race day — simple as that,” said captain Derek Johnson ’11.
The rainy Saturday not only saw the Bulldogs give up the Carnegie Cup to the Tigers, but also included losses by the second varsity and freshman boats. They both let Princeton break away and win by five and 14 seconds, respectively. The Elis’ third varsity boat was the only one able to salvage a positive result, finishing ahead of Cornell by three seconds and Princeton by seven.
“It was extremely disappointing — it was a perfect opportunity to race, and race at a high level,” said head coach Steve Gladstone. “The course was perfect, it appeared that the preparation was perfect, but for reasons I literally find perplexing, we didn’t show up.”
While Yale’s first varsity boat led the race at the 750 meter mark of the 2,000 meter race, Gladstone said Princeton surged ahead and Cornell followed, leaving the Bulldogs trailing behind as they all closed on the finish.
In spite of the first varsity crew’s solid rhythm out on the water, the boat never hit maximum pace, varsity oarsman Tom Dethlefs ’12 explained.
“Princeton and Cornell are fast crews, and when they pushed, we didn’t have the cohesive drive we needed to stick with them,” he said.
Following the result, Gladstone said he could not have been more disappointed in “our performance,” stressing that he included himself in his assessment.
Still, he said that the race may not have reflected where Yale’s team sits in the broader standings, less than a month out of championship season, which begins with the May 15 Eastern Sprints.
“By all comparative results, it would’ve appeared that Yale would’ve been right in the mix,” he said. “[But] it would appear that we choked.”
The challenge that Yale boats face in the three week break before the Eastern Sprints, he said, is to learn how to race when “all the cards are on the table,” adding that the issue was more psychological than physiological or technical.
Although Gladstone said he did not think there were “any cards to play in terms of movement of personnel,” there could be changes as part of his constant re-evaluation of team development.
Johnson said he was confident the team could bounce back after the weekend’s result, explaining that this week, rowers would “go back to the drawing board” and break into smaller boats. The goal of the next three weeks’ training is to maximize speed, he added.
“Eastern Sprints is three weeks and 20-something practices away,” Dethlefs said. “Our aim is to turn this loss into that extra gear which will let us contend for a championship title.”
The Eastern Sprints will take place in Worcester, Mass., on May 15. Yale’s first varsity boat finished 11th in last year’s race.