Margaret Hedeman

Yale’s crew teams have an action-packed set of weeks ahead of them, as the women’s as well as the men’s heavyweight and lightweight teams all take on their final regular season opponent this Saturday. In the weeks after, the Bulldogs will compete in various national races and championships as their seasons draw to a close.

The No. 1 heavyweights contend with No. 16 Cornell and No. 7 Princeton for the Carnegie Cup on the home waters of the Housatonic, while the No. 5 lightweights travel to New Jersey to take on No. 2 Princeton and No. 4 Harvard for the Goldthwait and Vogel cups. No. 8 women’s crew also competes against No. 15 Radcliffe-Harvard and Northeastern in Boston. After the regular season ends, both the heavyweights and lightweights will still race at the EARC Sprints and the IRA Championships, while the heavyweights have an extra matchup against No. 3 Harvard afterwards. The women will compete in the Ivy League Championship and in the NCAA Championship.

The unanimously first-ranked heavyweight Bulldogs will take on their Ivy foes this Saturday, as the Tigers and Big Red prepare to take on their toughest test of the year. While the winner of the matchup will win the illustrious Carnegie Cup, the race is indicative of much more. Yale has not lost a cup race in the last five years and is undefeated thus far on the season. An Eli victory on Saturday would mark the Bulldogs’ sixth consecutive year of cup race domination. In addition, not a single varsity squad on the team has yet to lose a race against its varsity counterpart.

“Winning the [Carnegie Cup] is not really the essence” heavy weight head coach Steve Gladstone said. “What’s important is laying down a very strong race.”

After this weekend, the heavyweight team will enjoy a brief break in competition before the pace picks back up at breakneck speed. The heavyweights will bring their best to the EARC Sprints on May 19, held in Worcester, Massachusetts. The Sprints serve as the precursor to the magnum opus of the collegiate rowing sphere: the IRA Championships. Yale, the four-time reigning victor at the Sprints and two-time reigning IRA champion, is again a heavy favorite for both the contests. Finally, Yale wraps up its season with this year’s iteration of the oldest rivalry in college athletics. Yale will take on Harvard in The Race on June 8 in New London, Connecticut.

Meanwhile, the Yale lightweights are poised to pull off a pair of upsets against Princeton and Harvard this weekend. Coming off of an utterly dominant performance against Dartmouth, the Elis are looking to extend that momentum into this weekend. A season ago, Yale’s first varsity eight squad lost in the closing strokes to Princeton, who pulled ahead for victory by the slim margin of 1.2 seconds. The Bulldogs are looking to make the last-second push this year and seal the deal over a pair of historic nemeses.

“This regatta is exciting because all three squads bring four or five eights, so there’s lots of terrific racing,” lightweight head coach Andy Card said. “And the rivalry is intense. Imagine if our football team could somehow play the last two games of the year at the same time? It’s like that. A fantastic stand-alone regatta, worth every penny rowing fans have to spend to watch it. On a practical level, it’s the last regular season race before the Sprints championship, so it’s a final chance to race your league opponents and see how you’re developing.”

May and June bring forth a duo of crucial challenges for the blues. The lightweights will partake in the EARC Sprints on May 19, also in Worcester. The Elis, who last tasted victory in 2016, will endeavor to recapture the crown come next month. At the IRA National Championship on June 2, Yale will battle other elite teams to claim the title for best collegiate lightweight crew in the country.

Women’s crew takes on Radcliffe-Harvard and Northeastern this Saturday on the Charles River in Boston for the Nathaniel Cup and the Rowlands Trophy, respectively. Awarded annually to the winner of the Yale-Harvard women’s crew matchup, the Bulldogs seek to capture the Cup for the eighth consecutive season. The blues, who snatched the Rowlands Trophy from Northeastern during last year’s race, will look to defend their newfound possession.

After the conclusion of the regular season, women’s rowing will head to the Ivy League Championships on May 19 with as strong of a shot as any team at coming home with the cup. Yale is ranked one slot below Princeton and one slot above Brown in the national rankings, but the trio are ranked far above the other five members of the Ancient Eight. Expect a three-headed beast to emerge early on in the course.

Yale women’s crew will then prepare for the NCAA Championship, which runs from the end of May until the beginning of June in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Bulldogs will attempt to replicate or improve upon last year’s excellence. In 2018, the Elis’ three boats all finished in the top 10 of their respective races while the team finished eighth overall in the standings. That performance marked the second consecutive year Yale finished at the top of the Ivy League in the competition — a streak that Coach Porter and his squad are surely looking to extend.

The heavyweights race against Cornell and Princeton this Saturday on the Housatonic River, while the lightweights will go up against Harvard and Princeton on the Tigers’ home turf. Women’s crew competes on the Charles River against Radcliffe-Harvard and Northeastern as well this weekend.

Bentley Long | bentley.long@yale.edu