Yale Athletics

On Saturday, the Yale heavyweight crew team defeated Dartmouth in their first and only home race of this season. 

In a fierce early morning tailwind, the first four Bulldog boats came out on top of extremely competitive races: the largest margin at the finish was three seconds. The fifth varsity, however, fell to the Big Green by more than fifteen seconds. Last year, every Yale boat except the second varsity beat Dartmouth.

Head coach Mike Gennaro said that the team’s goal was to “expand through executing what we trained to do all week at practice,” characteristically highlighting the heavyweight’s emphasis on long-term development.

The third varsity race proved to be the most dramatic of the weekend. Yale and Dartmouth had close contact throughout the course and around the turn until, with just 100 meters to go, a Dartmouth rower’s oar caught under the water.

This mistake, which is called “catching a crab,” can create so much traction that it brings the boat to a stop. On Saturday, the Big Green’s accident slowed their boat just enough to allow Yale’s third boat to slip ahead and clinch the finish — the crew equivalent of a nerve-wracking buzzer-beater.

Despite this stroke of luck, and Yale’s dominant position in the majority of the day’s races, captain Harry Keenan ’24 said “Dartmouth are always a very gritty opposition and we never take anything for granted.”

Though clearly opposed to complacency, the team’s captain has plenty to be proud of. On Saturday, Keenan coxed the Yale varsity to a 2.6-second win over Dartmouth, securing the Olympic Axe. This triumph adds another year to the Axe’s tenure in Gilder Boathouse, which began in the trophy’s 2004 inception.

There’s still much to prove in the rest of the season – the team will take on Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania in New Jersey on Saturday, April 20th. If victorious, the Bulldogs will take home the Blackwell Cup, which has been awarded to the winner of the three teams’ varsity race since 1927. With 48 first-place finishes, including last year, the Elis have claimed the trophy more than either other squad.

Harry Geffen ’25 said that last weekend’s triumph against Dartmouth was a “good step in the right direction,” with only the Blackwell Cup against Columbia and Penn and the Carnegie Cup against Cornell and Princeton remaining before the end of the dual season.

The Bulldog varsity was ranked No. 5 in the most recent IRCA/IRA Men’s Heavyweight Varsity 8 poll.