All three Yale crews demonstrated why they are among the nation’s best boats, with each claiming a victory in its respective cups this past weekend.
Across the country in San Diego, the heavyweight varsity eight came away with a commanding victory over a field dotted with top-20 competitors. Back on the east coast on Yale’s Housatonic River, the women’s team swept its weekend of action, dominating Cornell. Meanwhile, the lightweight team started its season off on a strong foot, nearly completing a clean sweep of its own against Navy.
CALIFORNIA CRUISING FOR HEAVYWEIGHTS
The heavyweight crew emphatically backed up its No. 1 ranking in the latest USRowing Coaches poll, easily winning the Copley Cup at the San Diego Crew Classic on Sunday. Against seven other boats, including four top-20 programs — Cal, Stanford, Oregon State and Michigan — the Bulldogs were in a class of their own, pulling away from the field and building a commanding lead by the halfway mark. Their time of 5:58.76 easily beat their closest competition, Cal, by two lengths as Yale was the only sub-six-minute boat.
“We really executed well from the first stroke to the very end,” captain Hubert Trzybinski ’16 said. “We were able to get ahead of Cal pretty much from the start and then after 500 to 800 meters, we had strong calls and pushes that really helped get water and distance between us and Cal.”
The senior added that the team enjoyed the opportunity to race against West Coast teams, which it normally does not get the chance to do until the national championships. The first varsity eight also won its qualifying heat on Saturday, beating Drexel by six seconds. The only other Yale team to travel to San Diego was the second varsity eight, which placed second in the grand finale, behind Cal. Although the boat had a difficult start, it was able to make up significant time in the second half, losing by just under three seconds.
Trzybinski said the second varsity boat would look to improve its starting sequence in coming weeks but added that he was pleased in general with the boat speed of the second varsity, which is indicative of the team’s depth as a whole.
On Saturday, the heavyweights will race Dartmouth at home for the Olympic Axe, a cup Yale has claimed for 12 consecutive seasons.
WOMEN THROTTLE CORNELL AT HOME
The lone Yale team to compete at home, the women’s crew easily swept Cornell on Saturday to retain the Cayuga Cup, which it has not lost since 2012. Each boat ultimately rowed to lopsided victories against the Big Red, cementing the team’s place as a top five team in the nation.
“It was a great day of racing for Yale,” captain Colleen Maher ’16 said. “I think each crew was pleased to come away with decisive margins, but we can always find something to improve upon in our next race.”
Despite the rain and cold, the Bulldogs raced extremely well and their average margin of victory was 15.2 seconds. The most significant win was earned by the first varsity eight, which crossed the finish line 17.9 seconds ahead of Cornell. The second varsity eight and first varsity four had similar margins of victory, besting the Big Red 6:32.4 to 6:49.5 and 7:04.2 to 7:21.4. The varsity four’s victory meant that the boat maintained its distinction as the only women’s boat undefeated thus far in the spring. The third varsity eight and second varsity four continued Yale’s dominance, winning by margins of 9.4 and 14.3 seconds, respectively.
The No. 5 women will remain on the Housatonic River next Saturday when they race Boston University and Dartmouth for the Class of 1985 Cup, an event the Bulldogs swept last season, winning the five races by an average of 34 seconds.
LIGHTWEIGHTS TOP NAVY IN NEW JERSEY
The No. 4 lightweight crew opened its season in the Johnson Cup against No. 8 Navy on Saturday. The Bulldogs dropped just one race in Lake Carnegie, New Jersey, coming away with wins in the first, second and third varsity eight boats.
“Racing for the Johnson Cup against Navy is always a challenging competition for us,” head coach Andrew Card said. “First, because it’s Navy, and they race hard and tough, always. Second, it’s our first and only same-day travel and race, which can present some obstacles logistically as well as with conditions and on-land preparation. But the guys handled it well, and we were happy to take three out of four races. We were not happy to lose the 4V race.”
Racing began in the late afternoon with the fourth varsity four. Navy started strong and carried its lead throughout the entire race, ultimately outpacing Yale by 9.2 seconds, 6:09.2 to 6:18.4. The Bulldogs then swept the remaining races, winning the third varsity four by 4.1 seconds, the second varsity four by 8.4 seconds and the first varsity four by 11.4 seconds. The win in the first varsity four gave Yale the Johnson Cup for the seventh year in a row.
“It’s important to start the season out right, and I think we did that,” captain Austin Velte ’16 said. “Our goal is always to have each boat reach its peak speed by the end of the season. So far, we’ve set ourselves up well, we just need to keep the pedal down.”
The lightweights next race MIT and Georgetown for the Joy Cup on Saturday in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a competition the Bulldogs have won 36 consecutive times.