June 8, 2005
The 2005 national champion Yale men's lightweight crew, coming off a start-to-finish victory in the Grand Final of the IRA Regatta on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J., on June 4, has more work to do this summer. The Bulldogs will have a couple of boats compete in the most famous of the international rowing events on the Thames River in London. Head coach Andy Card, who has led the Yale lightweight program to four of its five national championship campaigns, participated in the following Q&A with the Yale Sports Publicity Office.
SPO: It was not one of your better regular seasons. You must have seen something this spring that we didn't?
Card: I can't recall a crew from any school having so many defeats during the regular season and coming back and winning a national championship. Looking at it that way, I am surprised as hell with what the crew was able to accomplish. But looking at it from the inside, it seemed very natural to me, for I could see the eight develop quietly over the last four weeks of the season. In that sense, our win at IRA doesn't surprise me at all; based on our training in the three weeks leading up to the IRA I thought we had a chance.
SPO: How unusual was it to win the IRAs that way?
Card: Leading wire-to-wire in our league in a championship race is almost unheard of. We had been rowed down three times by Harvard going into the IRA, I guess we just got tired of that old script.
SPO: What was it like coaching this group this spring?
Card: This crew was a lot of fun to coach, even when it kind of wasn't going so well. It was more fun when the sun came out and we started going faster, but the character of the guys was remarkable even in the darkest hours. They never gave up and always stayed engaged in the process. Also, I would always hand out the meal money last, so they had to pretend to pay attention!
SPO: Is there one of the four national title boats that stands out most?
Card: Every national championship is special, and I can't pick a favorite, but right now this one's the best because it's the latest one.
SPO: Any interesting stories about the folks who move the varsity eight?
Card: We have two walk-ons in the boat. The four seat is Andrew Towne, from Grand Forks North Dakota. He started out as a heavyweight and came over to the lightweights as a sophomore. He took a year off to work in Africa and over winter break he climbed Mt. Kilamanjaro to raise money for the Yale Hunger & Homelessness Action Project. Our coxswain is Dorothy Halsey, from Dallas, who walked on as a sophomore. She did an excellent job steering the IRA course, like a ruler!
SPO: What else did you accomplish at the IRA regatta?
Card: Our freshman coxed four did very well at the IRA, coming in fifth overall in a heavyweight event. I was impressed by their commitment and eagerness to race "up". I think their experience will pay off in the years to come. It was great to have them around, and I think they got a lot out of it. Our coxless four of Coleman, Higgins, Blum, and Stallard is a young crew that didn't make the Grand but did perform well and really got a lot better over the course of the three weeks. That's an important boat for our future, and they're going to Henley too, as spares for the eight and to compete in the Visitors' Challenge Cup for straight fours.
SPO: What is the plan for this summer in the UK?
Card: We are sending an eight to race in the Temple Challenge Cup, the same event the Yale lightweights won in 2000, the only collegiate lightweight crew to win the Cup...ever. There will be 32 crews total entered in the Temple Cup. We are also sending the stern four of our JV to race in the Visitors' Challenge Cup, the coxless four event. They may have to qualify to get into the regatta on Friday, June 24, if there are more entries than the event allows (16). We will also be racing at the Reading Town Regatta, an 800-meter race on June 25. Reading Town is to Henley what the New Haven 20k is to the NYC Marathon.
SPO: Who else will be competing on the Thames this summer?
Card: Since the entries for the regatta haven't closed yet, I am not sure exactly who is going to Henley from the States, but I think notable American crews racing in the Temple Cup are the IRA champion Cal freshman heavies, the sprints champion Brown freshman heavies, Trinity College heavyweights and the Cornell lightweights. I think the Harvard lightweights are going too, but I am not sure what event they will enter, since one of their guys rowed in the Under 23-Worlds Championships, which could mean they have to race "up" in event class.
HEADED TO HENLEY
EIGHT: cox Dorothy Halsey '06, stroke David Werner '06, 7 seat Joe Fahrendorf '06, 6 seat Joe Fallon '06, 5 seat Alex Ramsay '05, 4 seat Andrew Towne '05, 3 seat Trevor Young '06, 2 seat Bill Jarmuz '05, and bow seat Bob Kennedy '05.