Heavyweights Set for Eastern Sprints

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

NEW HAVEN, Conn.- The Yale men's heavyweight crew will travel from their training compound at Gales Ferry to Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., this Sunday, to compete in the 68th Eastern Sprints.  The heavyweights will race six boats for the first time this season in this first of three championship races that will end their season.  The Sprints will bring together all the members of the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges (EARC) to showcase the fastest crews in the Eastern part of the country. It will allow the Bulldogs to test their speed against a number of crews they do not compete against during their dual season, including archrival Harvard. 

The regatta will also determine the Ivy League champion of the season.  The first Ivy League crew across the finish line in the grand final of the varsity event will be the Ivy League champion.  The last time the Yale heavyweight crew won the Ivy title was in 1982.

Each boat in the regatta has been seeded and placed in a heat that they will race in the morning.  The crews will progress directly to a final race based upon their performance in their heat.  In an event with three heats of six boats, the bottom two boats in each heat will compete in the third-level final.  The next two boats will compete in the petite final.  The two boats that finish first and second in the heat will advance to the grand final, in which they will compete for a medal. 

While the number of competitors at the Sprints will be markedly higher than any race so far this season, the goal of the day remains the same as it has all season for the Bulldogs.  In the words of head coach Steve Gladstone; "we're looking forward to getting to the race course and putting down good, solid races."

The first heavyweight boat to see action for the Bulldogs will be their third varsity, which will race their heat at 8:48 a.m.  The third varsity will compete in Lane 3 against Brown, Cornell, Penn and Columbia, all teams they have seen earlier in the season.  The crew was able to defeat Penn and Columbia, but lost to the Bears and Cornell.

"Training at the Ferry has rally given us the opportunity to focus entirely on rowing and prepare for Eastern Sprints," said senior Rob Michel, who will row in the third varsity. "The boats really seem to be moving well.  We are excited to see how we can perform in this championship phase of the season."

After the third varsity heats, the varsity crews will compete.  At 9:24 a.m., in the first heat of the varsity eights, Yale will race down Lane 1 against Navy, Northeastern, Dartmouth, George Washington University and Georgetown.  The only crew in this race the Bulldogs have competed against previously this season was Dartmouth, whom they beat handily in their second race of the season.

Senior captain Zach Johnson articulated the boat's feelings about the race.

"The varsity has picked up even more speed over the past few weeks.  We had the senior national team out here [at Gale's ferry] to train with us over the weekend which helped us find a new gear.  We are feeling confident going forward into this weekend's racing and look forward to seeing where we stand."  The varsity boat has not yet lost a race this spring.

The third race of the day for the Bulldogs will be the second varsity.  The junior varsity will race at 10:36 a.m. in Lane 3 against Boston University, Brown, Wisconsin, George Washington University and M.I.T.  The only crew the second varsity boat has competed against already is the boat from Brown, which it beat in its second race of the season.

Senior coxswain Oliver Fletcher, who will sit in the stern of the second varsity, reflected on the crew's recent training. 

"The boat has really been coming together recently.  We're starting to flow sweetly and we're full of confidence to race aggressively on the weekend."

The heavyweights' final race of the morning, which will also be the last race before the mid-day break, will be the final-only varsity fours competition, at 11:48 a.m.  The Bulldogs will race in Lane 2 against M.I.T., Harvard, Holy Cross, and Dartmouth.  The four has not rowed together competitively this season, but the crew has spent the spring season rowing together, giving them a profound depth of experience for the feel of the boat, which is much lighter than an eight.

The weekend promises fast racing among competitive crews who have waited all year to show their stuff.  It marks the beginning of the end of the racing season, and is the first opportunity most crews have had all spring to stand on the podium together with medals around their necks.

The schedule for the entire day of racing, including the times of the finals for each event can be found here.

Information on the live video of the races can be found here.


Report filed by Ari Zimmet '16, Yale Sports Publicity.