The Yale women’s and heavyweight crew teams opened their spring seasons over break, testing themselves against strong opponents in their first races since November.
Both teams defeated all the Ivy League foes they faced, as the women swept Penn and Columbia, while the heavyweights beat Brown in all but the third varsity boat. The women were challenged further by the nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 teams, but managed to emerge with an undefeated varsity four record.
WOMEN ROW AGAINST TOP NATIONAL FOES
The Eli women opened with a sole varsity four win against No. 4 Virginia before dominating their Ivy League competition and earning two victories against No. 1 Ohio State.
“Racing against UVA was a good way to start our season,” captain Colleen Maher ’16 said. “They are a consistently high-performing team, and … I think every boat was able to take away a lesson about racing and what we need to improve upon as we continue our season.”
Head coach William Porter added that the experience of the UVA races allowed the Bulldogs to make lineup changes afterwards, which helped the lower boats in later competitions.
The Bulldog varsity four was the sole winner in Earlysville, Virginia, but it showed its mettle, besting the Cavalier boat by almost eight seconds. The varsity eight jumped out to an early lead against Virginia, but a late comeback allowed the Hoos to win by 1.3 seconds. Other races were not as close: the second UVA varsity eight posted a time of 6:35.1, compared to 6:39.7 for the Bulldogs, and each of the lower two varsity four races was decided by more than seven seconds in UVA’s favor.
The Bulldogs were much more successful in the Connell Cup, which pitted Yale against Ivy League foes Penn and Columbia. The races showed why the Elis are the second-ranked team in the Ivy League after Brown, as Yale won each of its five races by an average margin of 20.32 seconds ahead of the second-place boat.
“Racing Penn and Columbia is always the start of our Ivy League racing, so it is good that we got off on the right foot with wins in all crews,” Maher said. “I’m glad that we were able to show our depth as a team, and that we performed well across the board.”
Yale’s varsity four again shone, easily rowing to a 23-second win. The closest race was the second varsity eight, in which the Bulldogs bested Penn by 5.5 seconds and Columbia by 9.5.
The Elis’ last contest of break was against Ohio State, the three-time defending NCAA champion. Impressively, they won two races, the varsity four and the second varsity eight. In the races it dropped, Yale’s biggest loss came in the varsity eight, with the Bulldogs falling by 3.9 seconds, or just more than one length.
“Winning two of the three NCAA races versus Ohio State was a positive, [but] not racing well in the first varsity was a negative and a bit disappointing,” Porter said. “[Varsity eight] is the toughest event in collegiate rowing right now and there is no room to come back on a crew like OSU.”
The Yale women’s team will stay at home this Saturday for races against Cornell.
HEAVYWEIGHTS DOMINATE BROWN
The heavyweights almost pulled off a clean sweep against Brown in Derby, Connecticut on Saturday. The first varsity boat easily came away with the Albert Cup, beating Brown by nine seconds.
Captain Hubert Trzybinski ’16 cited the team’s fast start as a factor in the dominant performance. The Bulldogs began to pull away within 30 seconds of the race’s start, and by the one-minute mark, they had put a length’s difference between them and the Bears.
“In general, it was a very strong day for Yale crew,” Trzybinski said. “It shows that we have been training hard over the winter. Brown is always a strong team at the international championships and the East Coast championships, so we’re pleased with the result, but we’re also very aware of the fact that we still need to work on a lot of things in the different boats.”
This pattern of early leads began with the fourth varsity boat, which eventually won its race by more than eight seconds, 6:12.1 to 6:20.6. The second varsity boat also pulled away early and coasted through the finish line with more than six seconds to spare.
The lone loss of the day came in the third varsity boat, which fell by about one length to Brown. Unlike the other three races, that competition was closely contested, as the lead went back and forth until the 500-meter mark, when Brown surged ahead to the finish.
Trzybinski said he was pleased with the “smart racing” of the boats and their aggressive, unhesitant starts, but he also acknowledged that it is the beginning of the season and there is potential to improve over the next two months.
The heavyweight team continues its season this Wednesday at the San Diego Crew Classic, where its first and second varsity boats will compete.
Correction, March 29: A previous version of this article misstated the ranking of Ohio State University.