June 14, 2005
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - After winning the Ivy League title for the first time since 1981 and finishing seventh at the NCAA Championships, the Bulldogs arrived in England on Monday and are preparing for the Henley Royal Regatta. Three Yale boats of four will compete on June 17-19, while the varsity eight races June 30 to July 3.
Prior to leaving for Henley, Head Coach Will Porter participated in a Q&A session with the Yale Sports Publicity Office.
SPO: Why did you decide to take the team to Henley this summer?
Porter: We have been planning this trip for the past four years, since our last trip to Henley. The NCAA only allows us to go once every four years which is different than men's teams, who can go every year if they want to. Giving every rower who comes through our program the chance to compete at Henley is important for many reasons, including team development, recruiting and providing the best possible opportunity for our athletes.
SPO: How many appearances has the team made at Henley since you've been at Yale?
Porter: This will be our second for the women. The Yale men have a long-standing tradition of championship crews racing at Henley.
SPO: How many times have you been to Henley?
Porter: This will be my fourth trip to Henley. I have rowed, coached and been a spectator in the past. Any way you go, Henley is a special place for rowers.
SPO: What makes the Henley experience special?
Porter: Rowing between the booms at Henley is like walking on to the field at Fenway Park. The place is filled with history. So many great crews and scullers have raced over the Henley course. The other great thing for rowers is that there is a crowd from start to finish. In your average crew race, the athletes only hear the noise of the race, boats, oars and coxswains until they get close to the finish. They hear the crowd for only the last minute of a six minute race. At Henley, the crowd is with you from start to finish. It fires you up.
SPO: How many Yale boats will be competing and in what events?
Porter: We will bring four boats to Henley. We are racing in the Henley Women's Regatta and the Henley Royal Regatta. Our second varsity has been asked to break down into two fours because they were declared too fast for their event
SPO: What is special about this year's team?
Porter: This year's team has secured its place in history. It has been 24 years since the varsity has won the Sprints, which is longer than any of these athletes have been alive. Not only did our varsity win but our second and third varsity boats won silver. This has been a great team. They know when to be serious and when to relax, they communicate well, have mutual respect and make good choices on and off the water.
SPO: What happened at the NCAA Championships?
Porter: The NCAA results were determined by many small things not going our way. We finished seventh as a team, and our varsity was fifth in a very fast race. We could have finished as high as third as a team if a few things went differently, but we also know we raced hard and did our best in an event that has become extremely competitive. One thing about the NCAA's is selection is so tight that you are forced to go fast at your regional championship, which is our sprints, to ensure you get selected. If you peak for your regionals, it is challenging to get it exactly right two weeks later at NCAA's, especially when you have graduation in the middle. It can be done, but it is difficult. It makes it that much more of a challenge. For us, the Sprints and an Ivy League Championship will come first and the NCAA's will be the next step.
In the first varsity boat for the Bulldogs at Henley will be Rachel Jeffers, Joanna Hess, Christine Geiser, Amanda Kendrick, Claire Norsetter, Maria Stevens, Alexandra Moser, Charlotte Taft and cox Jehan Budak.
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity