The Yale crew team kicked off its season with a strong performance at the Head of the Housatonic race Saturday, with the men’s heavyweight crew team’s top boat finishing first in the varsity eight race.
This race, the 20th anniversary of the event, saw successful finishes for all of Yale’s crew teams, with many boats winning their races, despite the rainy conditions. The top heavyweight boat’s victory was its second in as many years, posting a three-mile time of 13:04 and finishing comfortably ahead of Columbia, Union and the New York Athletic Club.
“All boats performed well this weekend, showing the depth of the team as well as the progress we have made so far this fall,” heavyweight captain Lyon Van Voorhis ’15 said.
In the 8+ race, Yale took home the first five places, as the second and third varsity heavyweight boats as well as the first and second lightweight boats all completed the course within 47 seconds of the Bulldogs’ first finisher. The next school to rank was Columbia, whose boats finished in sixth and seventh.
The lightweight boats also shared in the team’s success.
“Saturday’s race was beautiful,” lightweight rower Pavle Krivokapic ’18 said. “There was a huge number of boats, and many rowers were cheered by their families as Family Weekend was at the same time.”
Perhaps most impressive was that the first varsity lightweight boat placed in front of the first heavyweight boat in the 4+ event, finishing 10 seconds ahead of the heavyweight boat with a time of 14:54.
Other lightweight boats finished with good times as well. In the 8+ race, the first and second boats finished the three-mile course with times of 13:28 and 13:51, respectively.
The women’s team also had a successful day on the water. The first 8+ team finished in second place with a time of 14:33, just eight seconds behind Brown. The second Yale boat came in sixth with a time of 14:48, chasing Brown’s second boat by just four seconds.
“The races went well this weekend,” captain Nina Demmerle ’15 said. “The Head of the Housatonic is always a great way to start our fall racing season with some good competition. We raced well in all boats and know what we need to get to work on for the remainder of the season and this winter.”
The women’s top 4+ team also came in second in its race with a time of 16:49, losing to Radcliffe by 14 seconds.
In addition to the collegiate races, the Head of the Housatonic also included adult races. For the Bulldogs, those boats were filled by alumni, who came back to support the rowing teams even after graduation.
In order to prepare for the event, all teams spent countless hours training. For the heavyweight team, a typical training session is about 90 to 120 minutes of practice on the water, with a combination of drills and perfecting race techniques, in addition to conditioning on dry land.
“Racing in the fall is a fun break from the typical training cycle,” Van Voorhis said. “But our primary focus for the season is on the spring racing, and our training in the fall reflects that.”
The lightweight team has a similar regimen with intense indoor training, mostly in boats of eight. According to Krivokapic, the team covers a lot of kilometers in practice, and the team focuses on pushing itself and improving technique.
Rowers said that they were excited for the rest of the fall season and for the spring season to come.
“This is the deepest team I’ve been on at Yale,” Van Voorhis said. “Our end goal is being the fastest boathouse in the country.”
The team shows promise, as its top finish in the 8+ showed a 20-second improvement over last year’s time.
Members of the women’s team were also positive about the remainder of the season.
“From top to bottom, all the boats had competitive races,” Demmerle said. “This year is a building year for [women’s crew], so this fall season we are focusing on doing the basics very well and racing tough.”
All three teams will travel to Boston this weekend for the Head of the Charles races on Sunday.