Yale Athletics

The Yale men’s lightweight crew team kicked off the fall season on Saturday morning with a promising display at the Head of the Housatonic Regatta, its annual season opener.

Competing at its home course in Derby, Connecticut, the lightweight crew team sent out four eights, which competed alongside their heavyweight counterparts from Yale, in addition to Brown, Marist and Northeastern. Also competing at the event was the Yale women’s crew team, with the regatta marking the beginning of competition for the Yale rowers.

“We’re moving forward this fall with a very strong, deep squad,” captain Matthew Matejka ’19 said. “All four of our eights performed very well for being entered in the heavyweight event racing against our national champion heavyweight counterparts.”

On Saturday, the Bulldogs’ lightweight A boat finished in eighth with a time of 13:47.1, behind only heavyweight boats from Yale, Northeastern and Brown. Lightweight B took 10th place, separated from the A boat by a Northeastern boat. Lightweights C and D finished in 13th and 15th with times of 14:09.7 and 14:24.4, respectively.

Lightweight crew differs from heavyweight based on weight requirements. Each boat’s member’s must average 155 pounds, while no single person can exceed 160 pounds. The Head of the Housatonic is the only event of the season in which both lightweight and heavyweight teams race together as well as teams of both weight classes from other universities.

“We’re looking forward to a strong repeat performance at next weekend’s Head of the Charles regatta in Boston, but more importantly to the spring ahead where we’ll be four eights strong and ready to compete at the highest level within an exceptionally competitive league,” Raymond O’Mahony ’19 said.

The heavyweight crew team defended its title, matching last year’s first-place finish. The back-to-back national champions completed the course with a time of 13:03.8 to beat out Northeastern by over two seconds.

The Yale women’s crew team also competed at the Head of the Housatonic, starting its fall season off in dominant fashion. The A boat took first place, besting Brown’s top team by a massive 14 seconds, while the remaining Yale crews all finished within the top 11 spots.

Following the collegiate competitions in the morning, six eights of former lightweight oarsmen took to the water to compete in the alumni races at 3 p.m., an annual tradition at the season-opening regatta.

Saturday’s regatta marked the first event for lightweight crew since the IRA National Championship this June, where the lightweight Bulldogs finished sixth. Members of the team stated that they expect to improve their performance this year and will use upcoming tournaments as preparation.

The team’s fall season grew shorter this year, down to just two regattas from last autumn’s three. The lightweights will now prepare for their fall season finale at the 54th Head of the Charles Regatta in Cambridge, Massachusetts in two weeks. The team will send out two lightweight eights and two lightweight fours to race alongside some of their fiercest competitors in the Northeast.

“[At] our first event of the season, we were able to display our speed for the first time,” O’Mahony said. “All lightweight crews put down impressive times, as did women’s crew and heavyweight crew. No other lightweight teams attended this event, so we will have to wait until the Head of the Charles to compare our speed, but the results are promising.”

After continuing to practice in the offseason, the lightweights will kick off their spring season at the Johnson Cup in Princeton, New Jersey, followed by weekly events alternating between home and away courses until EARC Sprints in May.

The IRA National Championships will be held on June 2 in Folsom, California.

Alex Reedy | alex.reedy@yale.edu