October 23, 2011

Champ Boats Finish Out Weekend in Boston

BOSTON – Two more of Yale's heavyweight crews took to the waters of the Charles River on the second day of competition today at the 47th Head of the Charles Regatta.  The Bulldogs' championship four finished 11th and the championship eight finished 17th against some very tough teams.  With its selection process still in very early stages, Yale fielded two eights and two fours over two days of racing with 28 total oarsmen and coxswains, seven of which were freshmen.  This race marks the end of a short fall racing season for the Bulldogs, and the team will continue training until the sprint racing season kicks off next March against Brown.

The club four started off the weekend strong for the Bulldogs. The lineup of Keith Pfirrman (stroke), Gerard Kuenning (three), Don Leatherwood (two), Logan Hart (bow) and Liz Earle (coxswain) started fourth and passed two of the boats in front of them.  Earle handled the turns well and ultimately the crew finished fourth overall, second among college crews in the event.  Yale's time was 17:18.17, just a fraction of a second behind third-place Harvard (17:17.73).

Yale's club eight of Robert Michel (stroke), Grant Olscamp (seven), Max Knapp (six), Ian Suvak (five), William Rosenbloom (four), Ron Taitz (three), Philippe Mastroyannis (two), Christopher Zeng (bow) and Morgan Welch (coxswain) raced next and was in a solid second place going into the first checkpoint at Riverside Boat Club.  Somewhere in the next stretch of the course the boat's skeg picked up some debris from the river, and Bulldogs had to fight hard in the second half of the race to not give up much ground despite the difficulty in steering. 

The eight crossed the line in 15:49.70 to finish sixth ahead of Northeastern.  Brown won in a time of 15:20.88.

First to race Sunday was the championship four of Lawrence Lopez-Menzies (stroke), Jon Morgan (three), Alexander Krey (two), Jonathan Martin (bow) and Kerry Takahashi (coxswain).  Here Yale finished 11th in a relatively small field that saw some big performances from boats at the back of the pack.

Out of 17 total crews, Wisconsin finished first with the fastest overall time despite starting 15th.  Likewise the crew from the Naval Academy finished third, having started at the very back with bow number 17.  Yale was the seventh-fastest collegiate crew in the event with a time of 16:55.43, and just 42 seconds separated the Bulldogs from the winning time.

The championship eight was Yale's last boat to race on Sunday.  The crew of captain Tom Dethlefs (stroke), Joseph Alagna (seven), Simon Keenan (six), Clemens Barth (five), Zachary Johnson (four), Harry Picone (three), Grant Stegelmann (two), Owen Symington (bow) and Oliver Fletcher (coxswain) came in 17th place with a time of 14:59.82. 

Yale was 14th among college crews as the usual mix of collegiate, club and national teams was entered in the event.  One of Harvard's three eights won the event with time of 14:17.68, pushing out last year's winners Washington as the two passed under Eliot Bridge.  This year's winning time is a good deal slower than that of last year, but not for lack of a competitive spirit within the event.  24 out of 34 total crews finished less than one minute out of first place.

Sunday's champ eight was the most internationally diverse a Yale heavyweight boat has been in recent memory, as four out of the eight oarsmen were foreign-born, including three Australians.  Sophomore coxswain and British national Oliver Fletcher further showed the strength of Yale's international contingent by steering a perfect line through the course's six bridges as he has done for the fourth time now.  Fletcher knows the Charles well, having won the youth eight category twice in 2008 and 2009 for Eton College, the latter a 40-second victory.

The entire Yale heavyweight team was outfitted with pink unisuits for the regatta as part of the squad's Pull for a Cure fundraising effort in the fight against breast cancer.  The Yale heavyweights have raised more than nine thousand dollars, the second-highest amount out of 18 participating teams.  While the Head of the Charles weekend effectively marks the end of the campaign, donations will be accepted until Oct. 31 when breast cancer awareness month comes to a close.  Find out how to help here.

Report filed by Yale Sports Publicity