CAMDEN, N.J. – A barnburner in the varsity lightweight eight event brought an end to three days of racing for the Y150's at the 109th IRA Regatta, with the Yale varsity eight being crowned national champions. The Bulldogs won their heat early in the morning and came back some four hours later to cross the finish line first ahead of Harvard to claim the national title. It was a photo finish as a margin of 0.02 seconds came out in Yale's favor, giving the Bulldog varsity a gold medal to go with their bronze from the Eastern Sprints three weeks ago. The win marked the Bulldogs' first national title since 2005 and fifth under the tenure of head coach Andy Card.
The Yale varsity eight raced in the second of two varsity lightweight heats Saturday morning. Last year this race was a seven-boat straight-to-final event, but with eight crews entered this year the field was divided up into two heats. The Bulldogs won theirs with a time of 5:52.049, a full second ahead of Dartmouth (5:53.044) who had robbed Yale of a silver medal at Sprints by 0.1 seconds just three weeks ago. The win sent Yale to the grand final at 11:45 a.m., and with Harvard (5:48.253), Princeton (5:49.477) and Cornell (5:50.645) all posting faster times in the first heat it was sure to be a great race.
A clean start in the lightweight eight grand final showed Yale out front by a couple of feet, with Harvard pulling up next to the Bulldogs after the first 10 strokes. Princeton quickly separated themselves from the pack, as did Dartmouth and only about a seat separated these top four crews into the 500-meter mark. At 700 meters in Dartmouth had made a move to get the lead, with Yale and Harvard right behind and another three seats back to Princeton and Cornell. Dartmouth continued to come on strong through the middle thousand but Yale stayed in the fight, ultimately getting the lead after Dartmouth began to fade with 500 meters to go. Heading into the final stretch it was Yale and Harvard neck and neck, Dartmouth close behind and open water back to Cornell. Dartmouth continued to fade as Yale sprinted to the line with what looked to be a one-seat lead on Harvard. At the finish line it appeared to be advantage Yale, but neither the Bulldogs nor the Crimson threw their hands up in celebration. After regatta officials consulted video of the finish Yale was declared the winner and national champions, by a margin of just 0.02 seconds.
Yale's lineup consisted of captain Andrew Hakanson (stroke), Colin Corcoran (seven), David Walker (six), Thomas Swartz (five), William Zeng (four), Greg Hausheer (three), Brendan Harrington (two), Trey Chandler (bow), and Emma McBurney (coxswain).
Varsity Lightweight Eight Grand Final
1. Yale 5:39.904
2. Harvard 5:39.926
3. Dartmouth 5:41.860
4. Cornell 5:46.308
5. Princeton 5:49.247
6. Columbia 5:53.338
Earlier in the morning the Bulldogs finished fourth in the inaugural grand final of the lightweight four event with a time of 6:37.113. Yale held off fifth-place Navy (6:38.419) but were just out of reach of third-place Cornell (6:32.851) and the medal dock. Harvard won the event in 6:28.562. Yale's crew was Christopher Mayerfeld (stroke), Patrick O'Keefe (three), Matthew Bridgwater (two), Samuel Cooley (bow), and Ilana Usiskin (coxswain).
In the grand final of the open four event Yale finished sixth. Yale's time of 6:43.502 makes the Elis faster than three heavyweight boats in a nine-boat field. The University of Washington won the event. Yale's crew consisted of Michael Buttrick (stroke), Chad Bailey (three), Joseph Hanlon (two), Drew Lawson (bow), and Wendy Lin (coxswain).
Full results can be found here.
Report filed by Yale Sports Publicity