Heavyweights Ready to Take On Spring Racing Season

(photo by Don Clark, Yale Sports Publicity)
(photo by Don Clark, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale heavyweight crew team's spring racing season will be in full swing on Mar. 26 when the Bulldogs face Ivy League rivals Brown in Providence, R.I.  This matchup of the Bulldogs and the Bears has become the traditional season opener in recent years, and it will be the first intersquad competition the heavyweights have seen since the Head of the Charles in October of last year.  The Brown race follows closely on the completion of a two-week spring break training camp on Yale's home course in Derby, Conn., several months of training in the erg room at Payne Whitney Gymnasium and a 10-day training trip to Stuart, Fla.  After racing Brown the Bulldogs will have the first weekend of April off but then have three more dual races, two of which are at home.  The championship season then begins May 15 with the Eastern Sprints, followed by the Yale-Harvard Regatta and the IRA National Championship.

"We've just concluded a very productive winter training phase," said senior captain Derek Johnson.  "Though we've only been back on the water for a couple weeks, the entire squad is eagerly awaiting the transition into the racing season."

The Bulldogs return to Providence after racing Brown at home last year, where Yale won the third varsity eight, the freshman eight and the four.  This was an impressive feat to come from the majority of the Bulldog roster so early in the season, as the Brown 3V that fell to Yale went on to take second place at the Eastern Sprints.  This year, as always, the varsity eight will be the main attraction.  Two years ago, the members of the senior class made their varsity debut on the Seekonk River against Brown and came up empty handed.  On Mar. 26 they will be back at it, looking to exact revenge.  Also returning to Brown are head coach Steve Gladstone and freshman coach Joel Scrogin.  Gladstone served as the head coach of the Bears from 1982 to 1994, leading Brown to four Eastern Sprints championships and five IRA titles before retiring to co-found Resolute Racing Shells.  Scrogin, a 1999 graduate of Brown and Eastern Sprints champion his freshman year, briefly held a position as assistant coach of the Bears beginning in 2004.

Yale will have the first weekend of April off from racing to build more base speed before hosting Dartmouth on Apr. 9 for the Olympic Axe.  This is a title that the Bulldogs have not given up in recent memory.  Last year Yale swept the Big Green and will look to do so again this year.

The following weekend Columbia and Penn will come to town to race for the Blackwell Cup on Apr. 16.  This was Yale's one away dual regatta last year and with wins in the second and first varsity the Bulldogs came home with the Blackwell Cup, one of rowing's largest trophies.  Columbia had won the race in 2008 and 2009 but failed to achieve a three-peat.  This year's Bulldog varsity eight will look to carry the torch in keeping the Blackwell Cup out of the hands of the Lions and the Quakers.

On Apr. 23 the heavyweights will hit the road and travel to Princeton, N.J., to race against Cornell and Princeton for the Carnegie Cup.  This race was also won last year, making Yale three for three in cup races.  This year the Bulldogs will look to repeat the win, especially in the varsity eight.  The Bulldogs have not raced on Lake Carnegie since the 2009 Princeton Chase, where the varsity eight lost first place to Princeton by just two and a half seconds over three miles.  The Carnegie Cup, however, will not be a head race, but rather an all-out fight over 2,000 meters where history will be no indicator of the outcome of the race.

The heavyweights will then have three weeks in which to evaluate their dual season performances before heading off to race at the Eastern Sprints in Worcester, Mass., on May 15.  The Bulldogs will see each of their six regular season opponents again as well as Harvard in what is effectively the sport's Ivy League Championship.

For the second consecutive year now the annual Yale-Harvard race will be held in between the Eastern Sprints and the IRA.  The Bulldogs will race the Crimson over two, three and four miles in the 146th Yale-Harvard Regatta on May 28 in New London, Conn.  Last year this schedule change was initially thought to be problematic, as Yale crews have to go from racing a longer distance on the Thames in New London back to racing 2,000 meters at the IRA the weekend after.  In fact the change proved to give the Bulldogs a leg up on the field in Camden as the varsity eight arrived in New Jersey to take second in their heat to Cal, the very team who went on to win the regatta.  Compared to a four mile race the Bulldogs will be poised to once again tackle the 2k format of the IRA to prove that the nation's oldest collegiate sports team is ready to reclaim its place in the winner's circle on the national level.  The IRA National Championships will take place from June 2-4 in Camden, N.J.

Report filed by Yale Sports Publicity