NEW HAVEN, Conn.- The men's heavyweight squad arrived at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J., this past Tuesday in order to test the course before it competes in the 112th IRA National Championship. Three boats will represent the team: a first, second, and third varsity eight. Racing will begin on May 30 and continue through the end of June 1.
The IRA Championship will bring together the fastest programs in the country. With the exception of the two west-coast favorites of the regatta, the University of Washington (UW) and University of California- Berkeley (Cal), the Bulldogs have already witnessed the speed of their top competitors. Two weeks ago, the team raced at the Eastern Sprints, its first, second, and third varsities finishing sixth, 10th and seventh.
"We were disappointed with our performances at Eastern Sprints," said head coach Steve Gladstone. "That being said, we have raced much better, and our intention at the IRAs is to lay down three exceptional races. Our team has the capability and desire to do that."
"We've been able to refocus our training in the past two weeks," said captain Zachary Johnson. "The entire team is going into this weekend with high spirits."
The first race of the regatta for the heavyweights will be the heat for the varsity, which will race in a field of 24. Their heat will be the first of the day on Friday, at 8:00 a.m. They will race in lane four against George Washington University, Cornell, UW, Dartmouth and the University of San Diego. The first two finishers will progress directly to the first or second semi-final, both of which could lead to the grand final. All other boats will go to the repechage later in the day, and the winner of each repechage will earn a spot in the first or second semi-final. The top three boats in each the first and second semi-final will compete in the grand final, while the bottom three boats will compete in the petit final.
Next up will be the second varsity's heat, at 9:15 a.m. The second varsity will be in lane five and will race against Drexel, Dartmouth, Northeastern, Brown and the University of San Diego. The second varsity event will follow the same procession as the first varsity event, and will also showcase a field of 24 boats.
The final heat for the heavyweights on Friday morning will be the third varsity's, at 10:30 a.m. The Bulldogs will race in lane two against Oregon State, Cal, Northeastern, Wisconsin and Holy Cross. In this field of 18, the top two boats in each heat will secure spots in the top two semi-finals, while the rest of the boats will race in the repechages later in the day. The top three boats in each of the two repechages will also earn spots in the favorable semi-finals.
All repechages for heavyweight varsity boats will start at 2:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon. The semi-finals for the Bulldogs will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, and the finals will be held on Sunday.
Information on IRAs, including seedings, schedules, explanations of progressions, and live video can be found here.
Report filed by Ari Zimmet '16, Yale Sports Publicity.