NEW HAVEN, Conn. – All the big names in rowing on the East Coast will convene in Worcester, Mass., this Sunday for the 2011 EARC Sprints. Widely held as the de facto Ivy League Championship, the Eastern Sprints regatta is the first of two championships for the Yale heavyweight crew team as the 2010-2011 season reaches its climax. All eight Ivy League schools along with several other Division I programs from New England, the Mid-Atlantic and parts of the Midwest regions will field boats in hopes of taking home the heavyweight team point trophy, the Rowe Cup. While EARC and Ivy League titles are up for grabs this weekend, bids for the IRA Regatta at the end of the month are also at large.
Sunday will be the first and only time the Bulldogs will see their long-time rivals, the Harvard Crimson, before racing in the 146th Harvard-Yale regatta in two weeks. Harvard will arrive in Worcester as defending champs in the varsity and freshman eight events. This year the Crimson are also ranked first in the freshman, third, second and first varsity eight events as voted on by EARC coaches. These rankings are reevaluated several times throughout the spring season, the most recent of which is used to assign seeds for each crew and come up with preliminary heats at Sprints.
Yale's best finish at Sprints last year was in the third varsity eight. There the Bulldogs took fifth in what was the only grand final appearance for the heavyweights. The Yale varsity eight finished fifth in the petite final, putting them in 11th place overall. Current captain Derek Johnson was in seven seat of the varsity last year.
"Last year our varsity had an opportunity to secure a place in the grand final, but we came up short by inches," said Johnson. "We've had to live with that disappointment for the past twelve months and we're eager to line up on Sunday and prove ourselves. This entire season has been productive and we're a completely different team from the one that raced last year in Worcester. The last few weeks of training have been extremely competitive and all of our boats are well prepared to execute come race day."
The first Yale crew to come down the course Sunday will be the third varsity eight (4-0). No. 3 Yale will take on No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 6 Navy and No. 7 Princeton. Yale is in the second heat of two, which is set to go off at 8:40 a.m.
Not an hour later the Yale freshmen (1-3) will vie for a spot in the grand final. The No. 12 Yale freshman eight will race against No. 1 Harvard, No. 6 Brown, No. 7 Cornell, No. 13 George Washington and No. 18 Rutgers. Yale is in the first heat of three, scheduled to begin at 9:36 a.m.
The No. 9 second varsity eight (4-2) will race next. In the third heat of three Yale will race against No. 3 Princeton, No. 4 Navy, No. 10 Penn, No. 15 Holy Cross and No. 16 Rutgers. The Yale 2V will come down the lanes at 11:00 a.m.
The last race of the morning for the Bulldogs is the third heat of three in the varsity eight event. The No. 9 Yale varsity (3-3) will line up next to No. 3 Princeton, No. 4 BU, No. 10 Dartmouth, No. 15 Holy Cross and No. 16 George Washington. This race is scheduled for 11:36 a.m.
In Yale's first race of the morning, the third varsity eight, the Bulldogs will have to finish in the top three in order to advance to the grand final. For the remaining three events Yale will have to finish in the top two in order to advance to the grand final. Finals will be contested in the same order as the heats, starting with the third varsity around 1:00 p.m. and ending with the varsity eight.
The top nine varsity eight finishers from the EARC Sprints will receive automatic invitations to the IRA Regatta in June that serves as the national championship. There will also be five at-large bids. Selection to the second varsity and freshman eight events is predicated on a team first being selected in the heavyweight varsity eight event.
Full coverage of the regatta can be found here via row2k.
Report filed by Yale Sports Publicity