After winning four of the five races it competed in this weekend, the men’s heavyweight crew season is off to a promising start.
Twelve boats raced in the team’s first event of the season this Saturday at the Head of the Housatonic Regatta in Shelton, Conn. Although the heavyweight team saw overall success and Yale’s lightweight team took a Collegiate Eight race, heavyweight coach Stephen Gladstone said this regatta was not about the standings.
“It’s not so much results [at the Head of the Housatonic], so much as it is training,” Gladstone said.
Although members of the team said the results of the regatta were not important to them because the competition did not include many of Yale’s rivals, Gladstone said the races were opportunities for the team to gain competition experience. The coach said he experimented with lineups in different races to help finalize who will row in each boat for their next races.
Yale won both the Collegiate eights and fours races against other qualifying Intercollegiate Rowing Association teams. But Gladstone said the competition was most helpful because it required rowers to work with different teams of people and in different positions within a boat.
In addition to revealing how rowers work together in a line-up, the regatta also required team members to exert themselves in a competition setting.
While crew members normally compete in only one race in still water during the spring competition season, rower Grant Stegelmann ’13 said most of the team competed in multiple races Saturday. The fall races are upstream and twice as long — 2.7 miles — as races during the primary competition season.
“Doing a few faces in one day is tough,” said Stegelmann, who rowed in two races Saturday. “[Even] one race is tough with headraces.”
Gladstone said he placed rowers in multiple events to prepare them for the upcoming season, but the additional racing prevented the men from dominating the competition.
Still, in the Collegiate Eight, the heavyweight team encountered a few surprises. The boat the team expected to be faster came in behind another Yale heavyweight boat. In addition, a Yale lightweight boat — expected to trail the heavyweight rowers — ultimately took first. Heavyweight coxswain Liz Earle ’15 said heavyweight rowers generally have more muscle and row faster than lightweight boats.
Tom Lynam ’13, who rowed in the leading heavyweight boat, said several rowers in Yale’s other boat had competed in pairs races earlier and were tired.
“On paper the boat was faster,” Lynman said, “but top to bottom, we’ve got a really fast team.”
In addition to coming out ahead of its IRA competitors, Yale won the pairs event, the novice eights race and the masters eights race.
While the outcome of Saturday’s regatta was promising, Gladstone said he does not place too much emphasis on early season results because races in the spring are different. Spring races are shorter and in single lanes where boats incur penalties if they deviate from their lane, Stegelmann said.
But this meet was the freshmen’s first taste of collegiate heavyweight crew, Gladstone said, adding that the class of 2015 was the first class he recruited since he became heavyweight coach last year.
“The freshman class is promising, but we won’t know until the racing in the spring,” Gladstone said. “The tale of the tape is in the spring races.”
The team will head to Cambridge on Oct. 22 and Oct 23. for the Head of the Charles regatta — the world’s largest two-day campaign.