DERBY, Conn.- The Yale heavyweight crew team took first place in the varsity and second varsity events this afternoon on the Housatonic in their season opener against Brown. The only race Yale did not finish first in was the third varsity event. For all three races the conditions were calm, with a slight headwind and relatively flat waters that got slightly choppier as the day progressed. For the most part the weather provided consistent and fair conditions for all crews around the bend of the course. The squad from Providence boated five crews, racing two boats in two events, while Yale rowed with three eights, one in each event.
The varsity race kicked off the morning in a favorable fashion for the Bulldogs. As the crews came around the turn of the Housatonic and straightened out for the remaining 800 meters of the race, Yale had a lead of about a quarter of a boat-length on Bruno. The crews stayed neck and neck, until Brown took about a seat back on the Bulldogs with around 250 meters left to go. The Bulldogs, stroked by sophomore Hubert Trzybinski, were able to respond and take a couple of seats back, always remaining ahead, before they crossed the finish line with a time of 5:50.88. Brown finished under two seconds after, completing the 2,000-meter course with a time of 5:52.2.
"It really came down to nine guys racing for the love of the sport," said sophomore David DeVries, who sat six–seat in the first boat. "Just putting it all out there on the line. It was a great morning of racing for the whole team, proud of everyone."
The second race of the day featured both squads' second varsity eights, as well as Brown's first freshman boat. Yale rowed the middle lane and took control of the race early, maintaining a lead of about half a boat-length for the entire race, responding to intermittent moves by Brown's second varsity. The Bulldogs finished in 6:14.6, in front of Bruno's second varsity who came across at 6:16.7. Brown's freshman boat finished behind with a time of 6:22.9. The second varsity was stroked by sophomore Adam Smith.
The final race of the day was the only contest not won by Yale. In the third varsity competition, in which Brown's fourth varsity also rowed, Bruno was able to edge out the Bulldogs by a boat-length. The winning time was 6:26.8. Yale's third varsity, stroked by senior Emery Schoenly, came in behind with a time of 6:30.5. Brown's fourth varsity finished about half a minute behind Yale.
The day was wrapped up with some closing remarks by head coaches from both Brown's head coach Paul Cooke and Yale's Steve Gladstone. Cooke, who rowed for Bruno in the Class of '89 crew under Gladstone during his 13-year tenure as head coach of Brown men's crew, admitted to the bitterness of defeat and remarked on how Gladstone had always taught his rowers at Brown to look for ways to improve in competition- something he looked forward to doing as the season continued. The sentiment seemed to still ring true as Gladstone thanked all the athletes for their effort and reminded them all that this was only the beginning of a long season.
"The team as a whole performed very well this weekend," stated senior captain Zachary Johnson, who sat three-seat in the varsity. "The result is especially promising given that we have only been on the water for the last two weeks, having spent the last two months training indoors. This is a great way to start the season and provides a solid foundation upon which we can build for the rest of the season."
The results of the day do show success at a high standard, as Brown's first varsity finished the season with hardware at both Eastern Sprints and IRAs. However, this is a new season, and success down the road will be dictated by which teams are able to refine their race plans and consistently execute them come race day. With some momentum from this weekend and an unfrozen river, there seems to be nothing stopping the Bulldogs' progress as they continue their campaign this spring.
The Bulldogs have a three-week break from racing until they host Dartmouth at home on Apr. 12. The two teams will compete for the Olympic Axe. Yale has not lost this contest in the nine seasons it has been raced.
Report filed by Ari Zimmet '16, Yale Sports Publicity.