Bulldogs Ready for Racing Season

Photo courtesy of Catherine Foster
Photo courtesy of Catherine Foster

DERBY, Conn. — Yale Lightweight Crew opens their spring racing calendar next weekend with a season opener against Navy in Princeton, N.J., on March 29. After facing the Midshipmen in the Johnson Cup, the Elis then continue with races throughout April, before ending the season with the Eastern Sprints and IRA National Championships held in May and June, respectively. 

The Bulldogs intend to carry forward the positive momentum gained from the fall racing season. After a third place finish at the Head of the Charles, the first varsity eight won the Princeton Chase a week later. Yale's second eight also performed well at the Princeton Chase— finishing seventh overall and second among 'B' entries. The freshmen also progressed strongly over the fall; taking the lessons from early races, they put together a strong performance at the Green Monster, posting the fastest lightweight time at the regatta.

After a cold winter, the Elis have spent spring break preparing for the spring season at the Gilder Boathouse. Capitalizing on productive indoor winter training, all crews have made significant improvements on the water as they prepare for tough competition in the coming weeks.

Captain Matthew O'Donoghue spoke of his excitement for the upcoming season.

"The team had a successful winter training period," said O'Donoghue. "We're excited to apply the skills we've developed in pursuit of our goal of moving the boat as fast as possible over the 2k course."

Y150 Alumni Head Coach of Lightweight Crew Andy Card is looking forward to assessing the impact of the team's fall and winter preparations. 

"I like cold weather as much as anybody, but my love for the Vortex has come and gone," Card said. "When the weather turns — if it ever does — I hope we'll have had as much proper preparation as necessary."

Excited for the racing season, Card spoke of his enthusiasm for the upcoming Johnson Cup. 

"It's been cold for everyone I'm sure, so no special sympathy for us," he said. "But I bet all the coaches would like a little break in the weather. Maybe New Jersey will be nice for the Johnson Cup."

The Johnson Cup against Navy has been hotly contested over its ten year history, with Yale holding a slim six to four advantage. 

A week after facing Navy in the Johnson Cup, the Bulldogs race Georgetown at home on April 5. Yale normally race the Hoyas alongside M.I.T.; their fixture with the Engineers, however, has been postponed until April 19.   

Next, the Elis face a double-header at home the weekend of April 12: the Dodge Cup against Columbia and Penn on Saturday, before racing Cornell on Sunday, April 13. Yale has enjoyed a good recent record in the Dodge Cup, winning 32 of the last 34 encounters. Both Penn and Columbia have shown improvement in recent seasons, however, as illustrated by the Lions' third place finish at the 2013 IRA National Championships. 

The Bulldogs have another busy weekend on April 19— traveling to Hanover, N.H. to face Dartmouth in the morning before contending for the Joy Cup against M.I.T. that afternoon. After victories in both races last year, Yale will look to retain these titles this season. 

The crew closes out the regular season away at Harvard on April 26, where they will race the Crimson and the Princeton Tigers for the Goldthwait and Vogel cups. After a narrow loss to Harvard last year, the Bulldogs will be eager to recapture the first varsity event.

The championship season begins with the Eastern Sprints regatta, to be held on May 18 on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. The regatta provides all crews the opportunity to benefit from experiences learned during the dual season, as they put their skills to the test against the same opposition once more. The Y150 will be looking to win a third straight Jope Cup, awarded to the best overall lightweight program in the EARC, and a fourth straight Kilpatrick Cup, awarded to the winning first freshman eight. The first varsity eight aims to improve on its second place Eastern Sprints finish at last year's event. 

The season culminates at the IRA National Championships on June 1. Held in Mercer, N.J., the regatta gives the Bulldogs a chance to reclaim the national championship they last won in 2011 and improve on last year's silver medal finish. 

Report filed by Yale Sports Publicity