Donna Knight

This weekend, two Yale crew teams defended their home waters of the Housatonic River in masterful fashion, as the No. 1 men’s heavyweight and No. 8 women’s squads conquered No. 10 Dartmouth and Cornell, respectively, on Saturday. Meanwhile, the No. 5 Yale men’s lightweight squad headed south to Philadelphia to face No. 3 Penn and No. 6 Columbia for the Dodge Cup, winning three out of four races in the process.

Men’s heavyweight crew crushed the Big Green, as the White and Blue utterly dominated and won all of its races on the day. The women’s team followed suit and quashed the Big Red in four out of four races. Men’s lightweight left a mark of its own, winning three of its four races, but left Philly without the Dodge Cup, which the Lions won after winning in the first varsity eight.

“Home water is an advantage,” heavyweight crew head coach Steve Gladstone said. “It’s a course you’re up and down every day. It’s not as impactful as home-court advantage in, say, football and basketball, but it helps.”

In the battle for the Olympic Axe, the heavyweight Elis remained victorious for the 15th consecutive year. The Bulldogs have not lost in the Yale-Dartmouth series since the inception of the trophy in 2004, and that streak now extends one more year. This year’s contest featured a commanding Yale squad — every blue boat remains undefeated thus far into the season.

Just after dawn on Saturday, the first boats launched. The Bulldog first varsity eight gained an insurmountable lead of half a boat length in the first 500 meters, eventually decimating its Dartmouth counterpart by a whopping 11.2 seconds. The evisceration didn’t end there, as the Elis raced the Big Green three more times on the day.

Yale won the second varsity eight challenge by a 5.6 second margin in what was by far the closest contest of the day. The third varsity eight matchup featured a commanding 11.2 second difference between the Elis and the Big Green, while the fourth varsity eight matchup left Yale with an even wider differential of 12.6 seconds.

The dominance of Yale shone most brightly in its depth. The fifth varsity eight conquered the Big Green by a mind-boggling 22.5 second margin. The Yale sixth varsity eight also beat Dartmouth’s fifth varsity eight by 16.9 seconds. By the end, Yale recorded an average margin of victory of 12.6 seconds.

Cornell’s cremation followed Dartmouth’s demolition. In a celebratory weekend marking the 45th anniversary of women’s crew at Yale, the Bulldogs blighted the Big Red later on in the day in all four contests. A boat was dedicated in honor of the program’s anniversary, and alumni from each of the four different decades along with Director of Athletics Vicky Chun gave speeches to the current team.

“Yale women’s crew is the most historic collegiate women’s rowing program in the country,” said women’s crew head coach Will Porter. “Our donors lead the charge on Title IX, they took the lead in building our $11.5 million boathouse, they endowed the ‘Friends of Yale Women’s Crew Head Coach’ position, they are leaders in every career field and in their respective communities. It is great for our athletes to interact with them, learn from them and see what the possibilities are ahead of them. Our alumnae empower our current student athletes. Once you pull an oar for YWC, you are connected for life.”

A week after the second annual Ivy Invitational, this weekend’s matchup was the Bulldogs’ first home race. And the Elis did not disappoint, as Yale’s first varsity eight outpaced its Cornell counterparts by 15.1 seconds.

The day featured a strong, variable headwind, but there is no doubt Yale capitalized on its home water advantage. The Housatonic hummed as the Bulldogs smothered the Big Red — an absurd average margin of victory of 26.1 seconds reaffirmed the Elis’ top-10 ranking. This week’s Ivy annihilation occurred after a close race between Yale and No. 6 Brown last weekend.

“We are right exactly where we want to be at this time of the season,” said Porter. “We still have more speed to gain before the Ivy championship and we are looking for the right combinations in all of our line ups. We are not near top speed yet. We will get there.”

Men’s lightweight crew again showed its depth, defeating Penn and Columbia in three out of four races. The flat water and low current of the Schuylkill River brought out the best in everyone — Yale’s second, third and fourth varsity eight squads remain undefeated on the season.

The Dodge Cup, however, only goes to the winner of the first varsity eight matchup. The Lions emerged victorious, claiming victory over the second-place Quakers by a 3.55 second margin. The Elis finished last in the first varsity race by 6.81 seconds. This marked the first time since 1992 that Penn finished this event in a higher position than Yale.

Still, the Bulldogs showed their superior depth in the other races. On average, Yale clinched victory by 5.54 seconds in the second, third and fourth varsity eight matchups. The day began with the fourth varsity eights. That contest saw the Bulldogs tally a large 10.92 second margin of victory over their next closest opponent, Columbia. The third varsity eight and second varsity eight followed, with each result significantly closer than the fourth varsity eight race. But all contests finished with victories for Yale.

The heavyweights head to Philadelphia this Saturday to challenge No. 12 Penn and No. 16 Columbia for the Blackwell Cup, while women’s crew will confront No. 4 Texas and No. 7 Princeton on Lake Carnegie in Princeton, New Jersey. Men’s lightweight will host its own home matchup on the Housatonic against No. 8 Dartmouth in a bid to defend the Durand Cup.

Bentley Long |