A historic first-place finish by the Yale heavyweight crew team highlighted the performances of Eli rowers at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston this weekend. The heavyweights won the Men’s Championship Eights race at the regattta for the first time in program history, while the Yale lightweight and women’s team finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in their equivalent races.
The three teams compete next at the Princeton Chase on Nov. 1.
VICTORY BY A HAIR
The Yale heavyweights claimed victory in the Championship Eights race by 0.68 seconds, achieving their first title in 51 years of competing in the storied event.
The Bulldogs, reigning Ivy League champions, finished just faster than second place University of California, Berkeley. The Elis’ time of 14.18.97 on the three-mile course was not only the fastest in the Championship Eights division, but also the fastest time in the regatta overall.
Captain Hubert Trzybinski ’16, who was in the sixth seat on the Eli varsity boat, described capturing top place on the podium as enjoyable and rewarding.
“We are very happy that we won the Charles,” Trzybinski said. “The regatta is a great event to see where we are compared to the other top crews of the nation. It is also such an established and high-caliber event with a great atmosphere that attracts many spectators. Of course, it is fun and rewarding to be very successful at [the Head of the Charles].”
Also competing in the event was reigning IRA National Champion Washington, a boat from the United States National Team and Ivy League rival Harvard. The Crimson, which placed first out of collegiate teams last year, finished in third this year, 2.39 seconds behind the Bulldogs.
Yale head coach Steve Gladstone explained that because the Charles River acts as Harvard’s home course, besting the Bulldogs’ Ancient Eight foe is far more difficult in Boston than it would be elsewhere.
“Given the nature of the head race, which is twisty and turn-y, being familiar with the course is a significant advantage,” Gladstone said. “Being able to go up there, on [Harvard’s] home water, and prevail was a good thing.”
This is the heavyweights’ second victory in as many events this fall. Last weekend, Yale took home the top prize at the Head of the Housatonic.
The crew returned all rowers from their 2014–15 varsity eight this season, but newcomer Charlie Elwes ’19 was added to the top boat this season, upping the talent level of the team early in his Yale career.
Though the varsity eight does look quite similar to the one that claimed the Ivy League title last spring, Gladstone said that Yale is not currently focused on repeating as Ivy League champion, nor on winning any specific trophy during the remainder of the year.
“I don’t have long-term goals for results, because they are meaningless. The results of the races in the spring time are going to be completely contingent on the quality of the workouts,” Gladstone said. “The key piece is today, doing quality work today … That’s what I would say any year, any time, all the years I’ve been coaching.”
Also in the Championship Eights race, Yale raced a second boat that included five freshmen. That boat placed 24th out of 26, while an Eli boat in the Championship Fours race finished eighth out of 13.
ELI WOMEN SHOW DEPTH
The Yale women’s crew team placed two boats in the top 11 of the Women’s Championship Eights on Sunday, giving the team confidence for both the upcoming spring and seasons to follow.
Captain Colleen Maher ’16 was impressed by the performance of her relatively young team.
“The Head of the Charles is a crowded, exciting event, and I thought our team handled the environment well,” Maher said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we are starting to think ahead toward our winter training and really increasing our fitness for the spring. We have a fairly young team this year, so we are constantly looking to build and improve.”
The varsity eight boat finished fifth overall. The boat’s time of 16:40.07 was less than a minute behind first place California, which finished in 15:58.63. Rounding out the top four were Brown, Virginia and Princeton. The varsity California boat dominated the race, finishing 24.72 seconds ahead of the second place Brown eight.
The Bulldogs’ second boat finished 11th, ahead of the top varsity boats from Ivy League rivals Dartmouth, Penn and Cornell. Thus, the Elis finished two boats before several other competitors placed one.
“The second varsity had a very good race,” Maher said. “Any time you have two eights placing in the top 11 is a decent weekend, but we are still working for more speed in all boats.”
In the Women’s Championship Fours, Yale’s boat placed 11th out of 19. Only seven of the 10 crews that finished faster than the Bulldogs were collegiate teams, and the USA Women’s team took first place.
LIGHTWEIGHTS THIRD AMONG COLLEGES
The Yale lightweight crew team raced to a fourth place finish, behind collegiate crews from Princeton and Harvard, in the Men’s Lightweight Eights race. The Elis crossed the finish line just 0.38 seconds slower than the Crimson.
The second Yale eights boat finished 13th overall. Highlighting Sunday’s races for the Bulldogs was Eric Esposito ’17, who individually placed second in a field of 39 in the Men’s Club Singles event.
“Competitions are great to see how we measure up against the league,” captain Austin Velte ’16 said.
A boat from Canada’s National Training Center finished first in the Lightweight Eights with a time of 14:49.84.
Rowing for Narragansett Boat Club, Esposito finished 14.39 seconds behind the first-place finisher but ahead of 37 other rowers.
“[Esposito] is a great athlete in his ability to successfully switch between the big sweep boats and the single,” Velte said. “He was excited about his race and even passed some boats along the way. The [Yale lightweight team] is proud of him for laying down a great piece in a big field.”
The Bulldogs also raced a varsity four against fourteen other boats, earning the ninth fastest time.
Velte said the team is looking forward to the upcoming Princeton Chase, the third and final race of the season. Last year, the Bulldogs finished second in the Varsity Eights race behind Cornell.
“We like this regatta because the whole team gets to throw down together,” Velte said. “The guys feed off of each other’s energy, so having everyone there will be great.”