Courtesy of Yale Athletics

The Yale women’s crew team shipped up to Boston this weekend to compete in the Head of the Charles, the world’s largest two-day regatta.

The Bulldogs stormed to a third-place finish in the Women’s Championship Eights, but ranked first among collegiate boats. Yale’s second boat placed 11th out of the 33 crews.

“Getting two eights in the top 10 universities at the Charles is something [the team] can be very proud of,” captain Kate O’Brien ’17 said. “The conditions on the Charles were challenging today, and I think both boats did a good job of staying internal and putting down solid pieces.”

Last year, the Elis finished in fifth place in the showpiece race capping off the weekend. Yale secured bronze in 16:47.0, just edging out Brown, who finished second a year ago and clocked in at 16:47.7. Defending champions University of California, Berkeley did not race.

No collegiate team finished ahead of the Bulldogs, but two teams of experienced women’s rowers pipped Yale for gold and silver. The Bulldogs led the race at the Riverside Bridge, a quarter of the way through the course, and were in close second at the Weld Boathouse a little over halfway.

The Bulldogs tailed off at the end to finish 15 seconds behind the championship crew from the Cambridge Boat Club. Comprised of eight Olympic rowers, the winning boat was stroked by Genevra Stone, who won her seventh individual sculling championship the day prior, after winning silver in Rio.

The Elis fell just short against the Olympians, but proved the competitiveness of the college crews . The second Yale eight finished 11th  at 17:33.0. Only one other second boat, from the Michigan Wolverines, had a better time, and the Bulldogs sped across the finish line six seconds ahead of the first Radcliffe boat to break the tape. Despite merging as universities, Harvard and Radcliffe still have separate teams and use separate boathouses.

The style of racing at the Head of the Charles is called head racing and is based on time trials rather than boats competing head-to-head. The boats are released at 15 second intervals, and although passing does occur on the water, the real race is against the clock.

“We raced well in tough conditions,” head coach William Porter said. “I thought we rowed long, strong and very powerful. We had a good day today, but the spring is a whole different season.”
The Elis will race for the last time this fall in Princeton next weekend.