Stephen Fritzer

Fresh off a second consecutive national championship, the Yale heavyweight varsity eight concluded another dominant season by thumping Harvard at The Race, the nation’s oldest collegiate sporting competition.

The Bulldogs got off to a quick start, taking an early lead that they never gave up. The No. 1 crew in the country finished 7.9 seconds ahead of the No. 4 Crimson in the four-mile race on home waters.

“The varsity, as they did all season, took command in the first mile,” head coach Steve Gladstone said. “It was dominant from start to finish.”

The Elis also took two out of the three other races, with the second eights claiming the three-mile race by 5.5 seconds and the fourth eight winning its two-mile contest by 4.5 seconds. The third eights lost by a narrow 2.9 second margin.

According to Gladstone, Friday’s victory by the fourth eights gave Yale momentum heading into Saturday’s races.

“The tone was set with the race on Friday night,” Gladstone said. “The fourth varsity had terrific leadership from Lucas Peilert ’18. He worked with those guys. They are guys on the edge of competing and he drew them together. He was a good morale boost.”

The Bulldogs started slow on Saturday, with the third varsity eight falling to the Crimson by about a boat length in the two-mile race. But Yale’s top-two boats were up for the challenge, each taking their races by more than five seconds.

Both boats also beat Harvard in the season-ending regatta last year. This year’s victory over the Crimson was the fourth straight for Yale’s top eight, although the 2016 win was not officially recognized. In that race, Yale had a decisive lead before Harvard’s boat began to fill with water and no official winner was recognized.

This weekend capped off a superb season for the heavyweight team. The Bulldogs beat every Ivy opponent this spring before capturing the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges title for the fourth straight year and the national championship for the second straight year. Still, according to Gladstone, the season would not have been complete without a win over the Crimson.

“Winning the national championship is the crown jewel,” Gladstone said. “That being said, the unique Yale-Harvard rivalry meant a win was absolutely mandatory. It would have left a very bad taste.”

This weekend’s regatta was the 153rd meeting between the Eli and Crimson boats.

Bill Gallagher |