Tag Archive: M. Crew

  1. Cole ’07 in running to become America’s favorite rower

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    Olympic rower Charlie Cole ’07 is more accustomed to winning awards by plunging his oar into the water than by online voting.

    But the talented athlete, who won the bronze medal in the men’s four at the 2012 London Olympics, is in the running to become USRowing’s Fan’s Choice Award “National Team Rower of the Year.”

    As of Friday evening, Cole had a narrow lead against four fellow Olympic rowers, claiming 28.7 percent of the vote, compared to the next runner-up with 27.3 percent of the vote.

    Although most of the rowing world, including Yale’s rowing community, will likely focus their attention on The Head of the Charles regatta — which will be held this weekend in Boston, Mass. and Cambridge, Mass. — they should not lose sight of Cole as he nears the finish line in his race to become USRowing’s favorite rower.

    This is not the first time Cole — who could not be reached for comment for this article — has been recognized by the American rowing community. Last year, after a fourth place finish in the men’s four at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia, Cole won the Male Athlete of the Year Award, one that was decided by coaches and athletes of the 2011 World Rowing Championships team.

    After accepting that award, Cole told US Rowing that he considered it a “great honor to be recognized this way by [his] teammates and coaches.”

    Voting concludes on Monday at 5 p.m. Who knows — poll results for this race may be even closer than the upcoming presidential election.

  2. CREW | Freshman rowers eligible for varsity

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    For the first time in the history of the oldest American collegiate sport, freshmen will be permitted to compete at the varsity and junior varsity levels in the upcoming spring crew season.

    In June 2012, the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) decided to allow freshmen to compete in the IRA National Championship regatta, held every spring and considered one of the definitive races of collegiate crew. This decision applied only to the national championship, which annually takes place in late May or early June.

    Then, when the Ivy League administrators heard of the change, they voted to open freshman eligibility to all levels of varsity competition throughout the entire spring season, including non-championship races, cup races, and the Eastern Sprints championship, according to lightweight crew coach Andy Card.

    The new regulation is in effect for both the heavyweight and lightweight crews, and marks the first time since 1852 — when Yale and Harvard first went head-to-head on the water — that freshmen will be able to compete outside of their own race category in the varsity or junior varsity boats.

    Heavyweight crew coach Stephen Gladstone said that men’s crew was the last collegiate sport to segregate freshmen from upperclassmen in their own competitive division. He added that most collegiate sports used to be structured in this way.

    While freshman-only races will still take place at regattas throughout the spring season, the youngest members of the teams will be able to vie for a spot in the varsity or junior varsity boats.

    “It’s a step forward for men’s crew, after a century and a half,” Gladstone said. He added that men’s crew has now joined women’s crew and the rest of the NCAA in allowing freshmen to race outside of their own category.

    Heavyweight crew captain Jon Morgan ’13 said that the freshman-only division has lasted so long in men’s crew because the sport was the first collegiate sport in the country and is technically not a member of the NCAA.

    Morgan added that the debate over freshman eligibility has been ongoing in the rowing community and that he sees it as an exciting and positive opportunity for the team to improve.

    Gladstone said he expects this “healthy development” to make the team atmosphere a meritocracy, allowing the strongest oarsmen to compete at the highest level. He added that he thought a number of freshmen last year would have be able to compete in the varsity boat, but that the old regulations prevented them from doing so.

    Clemens Barth ’15, who rowed in Yale’s freshman eight last year, said he enjoyed getting to know his classmates on the team, but would have liked to opportunity to prove himself amongst the upperclassmen.

    “[The new regulation] will allow people who have the capability to race in the varsity boats, and it will make room for walk-ons and give them the opportunity to race,” Gladstone said.

    But there may be drawbacks to the new regulation. Card said he liked the former organization of the crew teams with freshmen in their own race categories.

    “The freshman category worked fine,” Card said in an email to the News. “There was less pressure on each freshman to get to a varsity level right away, since they had their own separate category, and they could start their academic career off properly in the fall when so much is new to a freshman.”

    Lightweight crew captain William Ferraro ’13 noted that with the new regulation, freshmen are expected to “hit the ground running” and forgo a period of time to transition to college-level rowing. He added that the youngest members of the Bulldogs’ squad have stepped up to the challenge and realize that it is special to be potentially the first freshman ever to race varsity.

    But with more rowers in the running to race varsity, the competition for those coveted seats will be stronger.

    “We say on our team that under nobody’s seat is a name, and now that freshmen are varsity-eligible the intra-squad competition is going to be that much fiercer,” Ferarro said in an email to the News. “We welcome that competition because we know that it’ll translate to more boat speed.”

    David DeVries ’16, a freshman on the heavyweight crew team, said that all the freshmen are excited with the prospect of competing at varsity level this year. DeVries said he expects the new regulation to heighten unity on the squad and help the rowers push harder in practice.

    Last spring, the heavyweight crew varsity boat placed 12th overall in the IRA National Championship, and the lightweight crew varsity boat placed third.

  3. OLYMPICS | Cole ’07 and Americans win bronze

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    Updated 9:56 a.m. LONDON — Rower Charlie Cole ’07 won Yale’s third medal of the 2012 Games while racing in the American men’s four boat that took bronze Saturday.

    The British and Australian boats led from the start en route to gold and silver medals, respectively. It was the fourth consecutive Olympic championship in the event for Great Britain, which finished in 8 minutes 3.97 seconds, just over a second ahead of Australia. The Americans trailed the leaders by 2.11 seconds at the 500-meter mark, and were racing for the final podium spot against crews from the Netherlands, Greece and Germany. By the halfway point of the 2000-meter course, the Americans had established a clear lead over fourth place Greece, and went on to finish third in 6:07.20.

    “We thought if we had our best race we would have a chance at a silver or gold, but we had a pretty darn good race and we came away with bronze, which isn’t a disappointment,” Cole said in a Saturday USRowing press release. “We are on the podium now. Which was goal number one.”

    The crew, which includes Cole’s former Ivy League foes Glenn Ochal of Princeton and Henrik Rummel of Harvard, began training together with national team member Scott Gault as their fourth this April. Compared to the gold medalists from Great Britain, who returned three members of their 2008 Olympic championship boat, the Cole and his teammates made for a young crew.

    The Americans were also relative unknowns who had never raced competitively together before, due to a decision to skip top international races this spring to train. But they demonstrated their strength upon arrival at the Eton Dorney Rowing Centre. The crew advanced directly to Thursday’s semifinal after recording a win in their heat on Monday.

    In a Saturday email to the News, Cole wrote that the team was “distracted” during Thursday’s race because it was the first time they had raced against five other crews. This weakness was a disadvantage of sacrificing the spring races to train, he explained. Despite their inexperience, the Americans won their semifinal to advance to Saturday’s medal race.

    In the medal race, the Americans planned to stay within striking distance of the favorites Great Britain and Australia and “attack in the last 500 meters,” Cole said. The Americans raced in lane five, between the top two crews, after the lanes were redrawn due to strong crosswinds.

    “We executed pretty well and gave ourselves a chance at the end, but we didn’t have enough to get ahead,” Cole said.

    At the 1000-meter mark, the Americans were 2.59 seconds behind the leading British and 1.98 seconds away from second-place Australia. Team USA recorded the fastest split in the third quarter of the race and and began edging back towards the top crews, closing the gap to Australia to 1.56 seconds.

    In the last 500 meters, the United States slowed as the Brits surged to defeat the second-place Aussies. The Americans finished more than two seconds behind the Australian crew and defeated fourth-place Greece by over four seconds.

    “We’ll have to think about and reflect on our performance and let the dust settle,” Cole said in the press release, explaining that he would have to watch video of the race to understand how their boat did not catch the top crews. “We have a lot to be confident about and hopefully a lot to look forward to in our rowing careers.”

    The American men’s four took bronze just two days after American Taylor Ritzel ’10 and Canadian Ashley Brzozowicz ’04 took gold and silver, respectively, in the women’s eight rowing competition on Thursday. Cole is the 31st Yale rower to win an Olympic medal.

  4. HEAVYWEIGHT CREW: Elis swept in 147th Yale-Harvard regatta

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    On Saturday morning, the heavyweight crew team battled Harvard on the Thames River in New London, Conn., in the 147th Yale-Harvard Regatta. The Bulldogs’ varsity boat lagged 9.9 seconds behind its opponent at the finish line of the four-mile downstream course, finishing at 19:51.2 and ceding a fifth consecutive victory of the annual race to Harvard. The Crimson’s varsity boat finished at 19:41.3.

    In addition to dominating the varsity race, Harvard won the freshman and junior varsity races earlier on Saturday morning. Yale’s freshmen finished 8.5 seconds behind Harvard over a two-mile race with a time of 10:34.1. The junior varsity completed its three-mile course at 15:27.2 – 31.7 seconds behind the Crimson.

    Described by head coach Stephen Gladstone as “the grand-daddy of them all,” the Yale-Harvard Boat Race first took place in 1852 and was the first intercollegiate athletic event held in the country. Harvard is ahead 93-54 in the longstanding matchup and has won 12 of the last 13 events. Yale last won in 2007.

    Two weeks ago, the Bulldogs placed eighth overall at the Eastern Sprints Regatta and secured a spot in the IRA National Championship Regatta, which will take place next weekend.

    Yale will complete its spring season at the national regatta in Camden, N.J., from May 31 to June 2. Last year the varsity squad placed 10th overall in the country.

  5. M. CREW | Both teams face first losses

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    It was a disappointing weekend for the heavyweight and lightweight crew teams, as both of their previously undefeated varsity eight boats lost their titles and finished in last place.

    On Saturday, the heavyweight team took on Cornell and Princeton in Ithaca, N.Y., while the lightweight team travelled to Dartmouth to race the Big Green. The heavyweights faced a strong headwind with minimal current, which made race times longer than in ideal conditions, whereas the lightweights had to contend with only a mild headwind that lessened throughout the day.

    The heavyweight team, which has swept the V 8+, junior varsity 8+ and freshman 8+ in all of its earlier regattas this season, instead lost all three races and the contested Carnegie Cup to Cornell. Yale ranked second in the junior varsity eight and the freshman eight races, but finished third in the varsity.

    In the V8+ race, all three crews were fairly even in the first 1000m of the 2000m course, but in the second half of the race, Cornell and Princeton pulled ahead of the Bulldogs. The Cornell varsity boat crossed the finish line at 6:00.7, followed by Princeton at 6:04.6 and Yale at 6:11.3.

    “We rowed an aggressive race off the start but never settled into a rhythm,” team captain Tom Dethlefs ’12 said. “Without a stable rhythm, we didn’t have the cohesiveness to keep the boat speed up in the last part of the race. We had a very good week of training leading up to the Carnegie Cup, and so while this was certainly not ideal I don’t think it was representative of the speed we have been producing in practice.”

    Dethlefs added that if the team continues to train as it has, it should be able to rebound from these loses and do well in the Eastern Sprints, its first championship race of the season.

    The lightweight crew team managed to win its JV 8+, V 4 and F 8+ races against Dartmouth by sizable margins — 19.0, 4.5 and 9.6 seconds respectively. But that was not enough to win the contested Durand Cup. Despite taking an early lead in the V 8+ race, the Big Green caught up to the Bulldogs by the halfway point and ended up besting them 6:03.6 to 6:09.1.

    Head coach Andy Card said the team was disappointed to come up short against Dartmouth in the varsity races, but that the race served as a learning experience. He added that the coxswains did well navigating the Connecticut River and that Yale’s JV 8+, V 4 and F8+ have improved their speed.

    Team captain David Walker ’12 agreed, adding that the team did well to win three out of four races on Saturday. He added that the varsity race was competitive, despite being the squad’s first loss of the season.

    Next weekend, the lightweight team will take on Harvard and Princeton for the Goldthwait Cup in its first and only home regatta of the season. Both the heavyweights and the lightweights will compete in the Eastern Sprints in mid-May and the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championship at the beginning of June.

  6. Heavyweight crew trims roster, gains speed

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    At the end of the 2010-’11 rowing season, his first year with the Bulldogs, heavyweight crew head coach Stephen Gladstone set a 6000m time standard for all oarsmen planning to return to the team in the fall.

    “[Gladstone] made it clear that only people who were entirely committed to the team and to going fast were welcome back,” varsity coxswain Oliver Fletcher ’14 said.

    On the first day of practice in September, the entire roster was tested, and Gladstone said approximately two-thirds of the oarsmen bested or nearly beat the 20-minute time limit. He added that the other one third of returning rowers either did not make the cut or decided to leave the team due to the higher expectations.

    Fletcher said the result of this was a drastic decrease in the roster size. Last season, there were 47 athletes on the team. This academic year there are only 32.

    The smaller roster means the team is racing fewer boats this season. So far this spring, Yale has raced in three regattas against Ivy rivals Brown, Dartmouth, and Columbia and Penn. The Bulldogs have raced three boats — varsity, junior varsity and freshman eights — in each regatta, whereas Brown and Penn have each raced five. Dartmouth and Columbia also have a smaller roster and only raced three boats against Yale.

    While one might think that with fewer crews the Blue and White is at a disadvantage against bigger teams, that has proven not to be the case this season. The three Yale boats are undefeated this spring, as the team has swept all three regattas to date.

    Gladstone said that the success of a team is not contingent on the number of boats it races, but rather on the strength and motivation of all the athletes.

    “I wouldn’t describe it as downsizing,” Gladstone said. “We wanted to get a core of like-minded people striving for excellence and dedicated to performing at the highest level. It’s successful addition by subtraction.”

    Gladstone added that since a different coach had recruited all of last year’s team, some of the athletes were not prepared for his expectations of team protocol, behavior and dedication. That, in addition to the heightened fitness standards, made a few oarsmen elect to leave the team.

    Team captain Tom Dethlefs ’12 noted that this year, Yale is one of only a few rowing programs in the nation to be undefeated at all levels at this point in the season.

    “Perhaps the biggest difference between last year and this one is that we now have a critical mass of guys who are really pushing the limits and making boats go fast,” Dethlefs said, describing the current squad as “smaller but more elite.”

    In contrast to this season, last spring the Bulldogs’ varsity squad fell to Brown, Princeton and Cornell in the season cup races and placed seventh in the Eastern Sprints in mid-May and 10th in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championships in June.

    Dethlefs said that while last year’s championship finishes were solid and mid-pack, the team was disappointed with its results. This “period of adjustment” allowed the team and coaches to reevaluate the team and figure out a strategy to elevate Yale to medal standing.

    Dethlefs said that the fall fitness requirements kept everyone motivated over the summer and that some team members returned in better physiological shape than when they had left in the spring.

    “While we do miss those who decided they couldn’t fully commit, the downsize left a solid core of guys who you know you can absolutely count on,” varsity oarsman Zach Johnson ’14 said. “It has pretty much eradicated the culture of self-doubt that had plagued our team in past years.”

    The Bulldogs hope to continue their winning streak against Cornell and Princeton as they race for the Carnegie Cup in New Jersey on Saturday. The upcoming regatta will be the last cup race of the season, and Yale’s last opportunity to compete before the season-defining Eastern Sprints regional championships, Yale-Harvard boat race, and IRA regatta in May and early June.

    Yale last won the Yale-Harvard boat race in 2007.

  7. HEAVYWEIGHT CREW | Bulldogs sweep third straight regatta

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    The heavyweight crew team managed to come back from a slow start in the varsity race on Saturday to beat Columbia and Penn and retain the annually-contested Blackwell Cup for the third straight year.

    The Bulldogs — undefeated this season in the F 8+, JV 8+ and V8+ categories — continued their Ivy League winning streak in their third regatta of the season. Yale defeated Brown and Dartmouth at home earlier in the spring, and this weekend’s victory at Overpeck County State Park in New Jersey was the first of two consecutive away regattas.

    “We’re improving and getting faster and more cohesive as a team,” head coach Stephen Gladstone said, adding that he was happy with the team’s performance in Saturday’s race.

    Team captain Tom Dethlefs ’12 said that the water and weather were calm, relative to the rougher and winder conditions experienced this season at home on the Housatonic River.

    Dethlefs added that racing on an unfamiliar course — like Overpeck County State Park this weekend — helps oarsmen improve their focus and gives the coxswains a chance to adapt to a new environment.

    As usual, the F 8+ boats were the first to race on Saturday, and Yale’s newest team members managed to pull ahead of their Columbia and Penn counterparts about half-way through the 2000m course. The freshmen won with a time of 6:03.3 — beating second-place Columbia by 4.3 seconds — to be undefeated thus far in their Bulldog careers.

    The JV 8+ race was a contest between Yale and Penn, as Columbia’s roster is too small to race a second varsity boat this year. The Bulldogs took an early lead and managed to hold off attacks by the Penn crew throughout the course to win the race by 3.1 seconds with a time of 6:01.3.

    However, in the all-important V 8+ race, which determines the winner of the Blackwell Cup, Yale fell behind Penn and Columbia early on due to a slow start.

    “[At the start,] Columbia jumped us out of the blocks by a good half boat length, and clearly putting ourselves at that kind of disadvantage early on in the race is not what we want to be doing,” varsity coxswain Oliver Fletcher ’14 said.

    But the Blue and White fought for the race and by the 1000m mark had the bow of its boat ahead of both its competitors. Yale ultimately crossed the finish line at 5:48.2 — 6.4 seconds ahead of next-best Columbia.

    Gladstone said he was pleased with the race and that the team will work on improving its starts before next weekend’s race and the Eastern Sprints in mid-May.

    Dethlefs noted that Yale is one of only a few varsity rowing programs in the country to be undefeated at all levels at this point in the season.

    “The varsity eight is starting to mesh together well, and we’ve been able to take a forward step every week … so we are excited to push this momentum onwards,” he said.

    Varsity oarsman Zach Johnson ’14 said that he expects next weekend’s race against Cornell and Princeton — the last race of the season before the championship part of the season — to be the toughest thus far.

    The winner of the upcoming race in Ithaca, N.Y., will take home the Carnegie Cup. It will serve as the last opportunity for Yale to face its regional rivals before the Eastern Sprints, the Yale-Harvard Boat Race and the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championships.

    “Having these wins under our belt does give us a measure of confidence going into Sprints, however, I don’t like to make predictions about results,” Johnson said. “You can only impact the speed of your own boat, the time we spend thinking about what the other crews are doing and how fast they are going is wasted. It could have been spent thinking about what our own crew needs to do to get faster.”

    Last year the team finished 10th in the IRA National Championships.

  8. LIGHTWEIGHT CREW | Elis dominate doubleheader

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    The lightweight crew team faced a challenging doubleheader on Saturday, racing against Columbia and Penn in the morning and against Cornell in the afternoon. But the Bulldogs reigned victorious, winning the F 8+, JV 8+ and the V 8+ in each regatta.

    “Beating three [Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges] opponents in one weekend is an achievement, and we faced some fast ones in both the morning and the afternoon,” head coach Andy Card said.

    The Bulldogs first raced at Overpeck County State Park, N.J., winning the Dodge Cup, before traveling to Princeton, N.J., to race Cornell in a neutral location.

    Team captain David Walker ’12 said that the conditions were great at both locations, with a slight tailwind for each race.

    In the first race of the day, Yale’s F 8+ finished the 2000m course at 6:15.9 — 6.8 seconds ahead of Penn and 16.1 seconds ahead of Columbia. The JV 8+ followed suit, finishing 6.5 seconds ahead of second-place Columbia with a time of 6:09.6.

    The Bulldogs retained the Dodge Cup for the ninth straight year in the V 8+ race, when they managed to pull ahead of the field and counter attacks by the Lions to beat Columbia by 2.1 seconds. Yale finished in 5:57.3, compared to Columbia in 5:59.4 and Penn in 6:12.2.

    However, the one disappointment of the weekend came in the 3V 8+ category. In the last race of the morning, a two-boat contest between Yale and Penn, the Quakers won 6:41.1 compared to the Elis’ 6:45.6.

    Later in the day in Princeton, Yale’s 3V 8+ fell once again to Cornell 6:28.9 to 6:00.8.

    “We wanted to win all eight races, of course, and we had the speed to win seven, but the 3V had a crab (a bad stroke where the oar blade slices into the water at an angle and gets caught under the surface) in the last 500 that diminished our lead over Penn and we were unable to recover,” Card said.

    He added that it was important for the team to win the two varsity events of the day as that event is the first priority, but then the team wants to win sub-varsity events as well.

    Yale’s F 8+ and JV 8+ won against Cornell by 2.3 and 3.2 seconds with times of 5:57.0 and 5:59.3 respectively.

    In the last race of the day, the Bulldogs’ V 8+ got an early lead on Cornell and pulled away to win the varsity race 5:48.1 to 5:53.5.

    Walker said that racing twice in one weekend is good practice for the Eastern Sprints and the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championship, in which heat races take place in the morning and finals in the afternoon.

    Fellow oarsman Tom Swartz ’13 agreed, adding that the team put together two complete races and showed improvement between the morning and afternoon competitions.

    No. 2 Yale V 8+ is currently undefeated in the spring season, as are the JV 8+ and the F 8+.

    “We have had a great season thus far,” Walker said. “The ultimate goal of the season, however, is to win a championship. We are continuing to improve and gain speed as we push for that goal.”

    Next weekend, Yale will travel to Dartmouth to race against the Big Green for the Durand Cup. On April 28, the Bulldogs will race at home for the first and only time this season against Harvard and Princeton for the highly contested Goldthwait Cup.

    The Eastern Sprints will take place from May 11-13 in Worcester, Mass., and the IRA National Championship will follow from May 31 to June 2 in Camden, N.J.

  9. HEAVYWEIGHT CREW | Elis retain Olympic Axe

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    On Saturday, the heavyweight crew team swept its second and last home regatta of the season, winning all three races against Dartmouth and retaining the contested Olympic Axe for the ninth straight year.

    Since 2004, the winner of the annual Yale-Dartmouth race has received the battle-axe trophy — and the Big Green has yet to get a hold of it.

    The Bulldogs are currently undefeated in their spring season, as two weekends ago they swept Brown on the Housatonic in their season opening regatta.

    “We were definitely excited to come away with another sweep — it’s great to keep up the positive momentum,” varsity oarsman Alexander Krey ’12 said, adding that it was a particularly special win because it was the seniors’ last home regatta ever.

    But both Krey and team captain Tom Dethlefs ’12 said the team still has a lot of work to do at the Gilder Boathouse in Derby, Conn. Since the rowing season does not finish until June, the team will still practice and race amongst itself every day on the Housatonic.

    Saturday’s tailwind and calm waters allowed the freshmen, junior varsity, and varsity boats each to finish the 2000m course about one minute faster than two weeks ago, when the strong headwind and choppy water slowed the crews down.

    Varsity coxswain Oliver Fletcher ’14 said although tailwind conditions make for a faster race, it is a challenge to establish a separation of the boats in the shorter timeframe and the margin of error is much smaller.

    Krey added that it can be difficult to row efficiently in a strong tailwind.

    “You have to be really precise at the catch and at the finish, otherwise your stroke shortens up a lot, and you won’t move the boat as well,” Krey said. “I thought in all the boats we did a good job of keeping our strokes long and really moving together.”

    In the first race of the day, Yale’s freshman eight managed to get a small lead on Dartmouth in the first half of the course and extended it in the last 750m, finishing 9.1 seconds ahead of the Big Green with a time of 5:45.2.

    The junior varsity eights from each team raced next, and the Bulldogs finished with a similar result. Yale’s boatstarted the race slightly staggered behind Dartmouth’s JV 8+, but by the slight turn in the river mid-course, it had caught up to its opponent. In the last half of the race, Yale surged ahead to beat Dartmouth by 10.2 seconds — 5:38.5 to 5:48.7.

    But the contested Olympic Axe came down to the all-important varsity race, and the V 8+ boats posted the fastest times of the day. Yale finished 6.2 seconds ahead of Dartmouth, with a time of 5:30.7 compared to the Big Green’s 5:36.9.

    Head coach Stephen Gladstone said he was pleased with the outcome of the weekend and that he thought the crews raced aggressively. He added that although he is happy with the early victories, the team’s schedule gets increasingly challenging through the spring.

    “The season will ultimately be defined by the regional Eastern Sprints race, the historic Yale-Harvard Boat Race, and the IRA National Championship in May and June,” Gladstone said. “We need to build off of each of the cup races, as the more experience we have going into the three big ones, the better we’ll do.”

    Next Saturday, the Bulldogs will travel to Orchard Beach, N.Y., to compete against Columbia and Penn for the Blackwell Cup.

  10. LIGHTWEIGHT CREW | Rowers take home Johnson Cup

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    On Saturday afternoon, the lightweight crew team swept its first regatta of the season, beating Naval Academy in four races on Lake Carnegie in New Jersey to take home the ninth annual Johnson Cup. Head coach Andy Card said it was the first time Yale has taken every race in the nine-year series.

    This was a promising start for the defending national champions, who placed first in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association last June. The rain held off all afternoon, but the Bulldogs had to contend with a strong head crosswind to win against the Mids in the freshmen 8+, both junior varsity 8+’s and the all-important varsity 8+.

    Varsity oarsman David Kahan said the team “had a solid race” against Navy, an opponent it takes very seriously. He added the regatta provided the first opportunity of the season to see the squad’s strengths and weaknesses.

    Team captain David Walker ’12 and varsity oarsman Brendan Harrington ’13 said they were particularly proud of the two sophomores in the varsity boat, Josh Mann ’14 and Joe Hanlon ’14, who won their first race at the varsity level, stepping up from the freshman boat last year.

    “Props to [Mann and Hanlon],” Harrington said. “We’re all really proud of how they’ve stepped up this semester, and they’ve both made a fantastic transition to the varsity.”

    Hanlon said it was exciting to represent Yale at the varsity level and that he is pleased with the win, although he is just happy to have the first race of the season under his belt.

    In the first race of the day, Yale’s second junior varsity eight took an early lead against its Navy counterpart and the Navy second freshman boat, and maintained that lead for the rest of the 2000m race. The Bulldogs ultimately crossed the finish line at 6:35.1 — 2.6 seconds ahead of Navy’s 2JV 8+, which finished the course at 6:37.7. The second Navy boat came in just behind at 6:38.4.

    Card said the 2JV performed particularly well given the lineup changes that took place in February and March.

    The freshmen boats took to the water next, and the Blue and White steadily advanced throughout the race to finish a whopping 25.6 seconds ahead of the Midshipmen. In their first official race for Yale, the freshan eight timed in at 6:25.1 — well ahead of Navy, which finished in 6:50.7.

    The pattern of winning continued into the junior varsity and varsity races. Yale’s JV 8+ started strongly and pulled ahead of Navy at the beginning of the race, finishing at 6:16.5. Navy crossed the finish line at 6:20.7.

    In the varsity race — which determined the winner of the Johnson Cup — Yale’s varsity eight steadily gained distance on Navy throughout the course and finished nine seconds ahead of its opponent. The Elis posted the fastest time of the day, 6:09.3 compared to the Navy varsity’s 6:18.3.

    This weekend, the lightweight crew team followed in the footsteps of the heavyweights, who opened their season at home last weekend with a three-race victory over Brown.

    “I’m very happy that every boat got a win early in the season, but we still have a lot of work to do as a team,” Walker said. “We had a great start to the season, but we can always improve overall speed and consistency throughout the race. The goal is to get eight guys moving perfectly together, which will be a constant focus all season.”

    Next weekend, the lightweight team will travel to MIT to compete against the Engineers and Georgetown for the Joy Cup. The heavyweights will resume their race schedule after a break this weekend as they host Dartmouth at the Gilder Boathouse in Derby — their last home regatta of the season.

    The heavyweight races will begin at 10 a.m. and buses will depart for the boathouse from the Payne Whitney Gym at 9 a.m.

  11. LIGHTWEIGHT CREW | Bulldogs launch season

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    On the heels of the heavyweight crew team’s sweeping home victory against Brown last weekend, the lightweight crew team will open its spring season this Saturday against Navy in Princeton, N.J.

    The Bulldogs will take on the Midshipmen in four races — the varsity eight, junior varsity eight, second junior varsity eight, and freshmen eight — on Lake Carnegie, fighting to take home the ninth annual Johnson Cup. Saturday’s race will present the Blue and White with two challenges, head coach Andy Card said.

    “[First,] Navy is always a deep and fast team, and second, it’s our first race of the spring,” Card said. “Your first race is, well, your first race, and we have many new guys on the team — new guys in the freshman eight by definition, sophomores new to varsity competition, and new guys in the varsity boat. Everyone is racing up.”

    Card added that many talented seniors, including five in the varsity eight, graduated last year, so the top 16 slots must be filled.

    But even with the new roster, the team hopes to keep one thing the same from last year. The Bulldogs are defending their No. 1 ranking in the nation after the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championship last June. The 2011 season was the first time since 2005 that Yale finishedvarsity race. Last weekend, the Midshipmen lost to Princeton by 5.3 seconds in the varsity race.