Lightweights Conclude Visit to China

The opening ceremony.
The opening ceremony.

XINJIN, China - The lightweight crew team recently concluded its week-long visit to China, which included a pair of regattas along with time for sight-seeing and cultural activities.

Yale's crew, led by assistant coach Colin Farrell, included rising sophomore Franz Colloredo-Mansfield (South Hamilton, Mass.), rising senior Colin Corcoran (Lansdale, Pa.), John Grunyk '10 (Lincolnshire, Ill.), Jeremy Hopkins '10 (Dresher, Pa.), Michael Jonas '10 (Freeport, N.Y.), rising senior Michael LeFevour (Wilmette, Ill.), Noah McColl '10 (Salt Spring, B.C.), rising senior Rachel Morgan (Palos Verdes, Calif.), rising junior Christopher Murphy (Holbrook, N.Y.) and rising senior William Zeng (Great Falls, Va.).

After competing in the International Famous Universities Rowing Regatta on Aug. 1 in Beijing, the Bulldogs began the second half of their regatta itinerary by boarding a flight to the city of Chengdu in the Sichuan province on Aug. 4. A short bus ride to Xinjin, "the water city", completed the journey. Of the 31 provinces in China, approximately 26 have an extensive water sport facility for canoeing, kayaking and rowing.

Thursday Aug. 5 provided the team an opportunity to get some on-water practice twice. The racing boats had been transported by lorry from Beijing to Xinjin. Each of the teams unloaded and rigged their shells for the upcoming competition.

On Friday, Yale's hosts took the competitors to the giant panda research center outside of Chengdu. With the very hot and humid weather, the giant pandas seemed to prefer the cool indoor rooms rather than the more open and natural setting just outside their doors. Wallowing in bamboo shoots, they certainly seemed like happy campers.

With a police escort and an endless stream of volunteers, race day started with rock star status for the teams. The venue was a festive display unlike any rowing event the Bulldogs had seen. Thousands of spectators lined both sides of the race course. All were treated with an opening ceremony complete with a water ski show, parachutes, fireworks, the flying of the pigeons and more.

The 2010 China Xinjin Jinke Real Estate Cup featured the same teams from the competition in Beijing. The regatta provided an opportunity to match up with world-class teams from around the globe.

The lightweight heat was first on the race card. Yale finished second, behind Harvard and ahead of Cambridge and Oxford. Heat two featured the open division with the following finish order: Princeton, Tsinghua, Pavia (Italy), London, Otago (New Zealand) and South China Normal.

After a break for more water festivities for the crowd, the final heat got underway. The Yale lightweights again finished second to Harvard, with Cambridge in third and Oxford fourth.

In the open finals Tsinghua came away with the win. Princeton led for the first 500 meters before a broken oar took the Tigers out of the race. They unfortunately did not have the chance to avenge their second-place finish to Tsinghua in Beijing on this day.

The host committee threw a very special farewell dinner complete with traditional Chinese cuisine, entertainment and commemorative prizes for the rowers. Friendships were forged between the teams as well as with the interpreters provided to each team from the local university.

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