NEW LONDON, Conn. – The 146th matchup between Harvard and Yale heavyweight crews brought the usual test of endurance to the waters of New London's Thames River on Saturday. All four races – the varsity, junior varsity, freshman and combination eight – went to the Crimson, but the Bulldogs made them earn it with every stroke over four, three and two miles. With solid performances delivered by Yale against fast Harvard crews, all eyes are now on next week's IRA National Championship Regatta.
"All the way through, the guys absolutely gave full measure," said head coach Steve Gladstone. "The [varsity] rowed well, they rowed hard, and they rowed themselves out. We've got the national championships in front of us and it's a whole different event."
The main attraction came in the late afternoon as the Harvard and Yale varsity eights took their places at the starting line under the Gold Star Memorial Bridge. While in the past Yale has been known to jump out to an early lead at the start, this year both boats kept in close contact with each other. Harvard had a slight advantage off of the line, but as the Bulldogs settled into their rhythm they began to reel the Crimson back in.
For most of the first two miles the two crews battled back and forth with one another, Harvard making a move and Yale responding to hold even. Approaching the mile and a half mark the Crimson made a big push to take a half a boat length lead and slowly walked away from there.
"I'm proud of the guys," said captain Derek Johnson. "I'm proud of the way that they rowed, and I just wish we could squeeze another centimeter out of every stroke. I know that moving into the future Coach Gladstone is going to be able to squeeze that centimeter out of each guy and each boat."
Traditionally Gales Ferry has been the last stop for the Yale heavyweights. For the second year in a row now, the race has been contested before the national championships. At four miles the Harvard-Yale Regatta is both a classic in the sport of rowing as well as one of the longest races in the sport. Next week Yale will go back to racing two thousand meters (or roughly 1.25 miles) on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J. That Yale was able to stick with Harvard for the first mile and a half to two miles on Saturday is a good indication that the Bulldogs will be able to finish out the season strong.
Earlier in the day the Crimson took the junior varsity and freshman eight races. Harvard also won the combination eight, made up of third varsity and second freshman eight rowers, contested on Friday.
Junior Varsity Eight
Report filed by Yale Sports Publicity