NEW HAVEN, Conn. – At the end of this week the Yale heavyweight crew team will have its first race of the year, beginning the long road towards the championship regattas of the spring. Last year was Steve Gladstone's first year as head coach and under his leadership the varsity eight saw a marked improvement in its finish at the Eastern Sprints and IRAs. This year Gladstone returns with a veteran senior class, including captain Tom Dethlefs, a new assistant coach, and a fitter, more tenacious squad than ever.
At the end of last season the team was charged with coming back after the summer and meeting a 20-minute 6k standard on the erg. Those who chose to return posted very impressive results on the erg trial – varsity and freshmen alike – and have demonstrated that this year's team is a smaller but more determined squad with a unified purpose. Currently the team is hard at work every afternoon out on the waters of the Housatonic River until November, when the heavyweights will return to the ergs in the completely renovated tank room in Payne Whitney Gymnasium. The year will come to a close with the team heading back south for another 10-day winter training trip in Stuart, Fla., in late December.
With another year comes another coaching change for the Yale heavyweights. The team's new assistant coach Sam Baum, Penn '09, is an Eastern Sprints Champion and IRA bronze medalist from his freshman eight. Baum later rowed in the varsity eight at Penn as an upperclassman before graduating and becoming the head coach at Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif. Baum will work to bring this year's group of walk-on rowers up to speed as well as oversee the team's recruiting efforts.
This year's class of freshman oarsmen is a diverse group. From Australia to Germany to just up the road in Massachusetts, the freshmen have come from all over and bring with them an impressive collective resume. From selection camp invites, to wins at Henley Royal Regatta, to medals from Junior Worlds, they show a lot of promise as the first class to be recruited under the direction of Coach Gladstone. With the addition of a host of walk-ons, freshman coach Joel Scrogin has a great gang of new talent to work with.
While all of this year's squad was hard at work over the summer, three Yale oarsmen stand out in their rowing endeavors from the summer months. Sophomore Owen Symington, junior Harry Picone and senior captain Tom Dethlefs all competed at the 2011 World Under-23 Rowing Championships in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Picone and Symington rowed in a four with coxswain for Australia, and won the B final for a seventh-place overall finish. Dethlefs rowed in the U.S. eight that finished in first place and set a new U23 world record time. This was Picone and Symington's first time rowing for a national team, while Dethlefs took home gold for the first time in his fourth national team appearance.
The Bulldogs have two regattas on the calendar for the fall season. First will be the Head of the Housatonic on Oct. 8, Yale's traditional season opener on its home course in Derby, Conn. Then two weeks later the heavyweights will head on up to Boston for the Head of the Charles on Oct. 22-23, the world's largest two-day regatta. The Bulldogs will field two eights and two fours, and with this year's smaller squad a greater number of freshmen will likely be competing at the Charles than in years past. At the Charles the heavyweights will once again be participating in Pull for a Cure, a fundraising effort also being undertaken by teams from Brown, Harvard, Penn State, Princeton and Syracuse. Racing in pink uniforms, last year the Yale heavyweight, lightweight, and women's crew teams raised more than $15,000 for breast cancer research.
Report filed by Yale Sports Publicity