May 10, 2007
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale women's varsity eight made it through the dual-race season unscathed. Now, the Bulldogs hope to keep their perfect record intact and earn an Ivy League title when they head to the Eastern Sprints on Sunday on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J.
"We've been prepping for six-boat racing and the opportunity to race at Sprints all year, so we're excited to go down to Camden and see what we can do," said captain Rachel Jeffers. "We know there's going to be a lot of fast crews, and we're looking forward to meeting that challenge."
Yale's varsity, which went 12-0 in dual-race competition, is the top seed for the Sprints, followed by Brown, Princeton, Dartmouth and Radcliffe. The first Ivy League team across the finish line will be the 2007 Ivy champion. The Bulldogs are scheduled to race in the first heat on Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. against Rutgers, Penn, Northeastern, Rhode Island and MIT. The top two finishers from each of the three heats qualify for the Grand Final, which is scheduled for 4:50 p.m.
"The Sprints are no different than any other race this year," said Yale Head Coach Will Porter. "It is still 2,000 meters, and the name of the game is the same - go as fast as we can. Brown, Princeton, Radcliffe, Dartmouth and Northeastern are all really fast crews."
Princeton is the defending champion. The Tigers cruised to a nearly eight-second victory over Brown last year. Yale finished third. The Bulldogs won the Sprints in 2005 and have finished in the top three in each of the last four years.
This year's Yale varsity features three seniors, a junior, two sophomores and three freshmen.
"I think that the experience that some of us have at Sprints is definitely a plus. We sort of know the format and what to expect from the day, at least logistically," said Jeffers, who has been in the varsity boat in each of her four years and was in the No. 1 seat when the Bulldogs won in 2005. "Alternatively, having a little youth in our program and freshmen who haven't been to Sprints adds some excitement."
The early forecast for Sunday in Camden is for sunny skies with temperatures in the low 70s. The event has been held on the Cooper River since 2001.
"The Cooper River is generally a great course to row and race on. Every time I've been there the conditions have been near perfect, maybe with a slight tailwind," Jeffers said. "We've definitely had experience rowing in all sorts of conditions on the Housatonic and we'll be ready for whatever the day brings us."
Four other Yale boats will also be competing on Sunday. The Novice eight, which is seeded second, races in a heat at 8:10 a.m. The second varsity also is seeded second and has its heat at 9:20 a.m. The fourth-seeded varsity four A has a 10:20 a.m. heat and the varsity four B has a 10:40 a.m. heat.
"All we can do is row our races to the best of our ability in all our crews and work for team speed," Porter said. "At the end of the day our goals are simple - work hard, go fast and have fun. If it were easy, it wouldn't be fun."
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity