Heavyweight Crew Returns From Annual Florida Training Trip

(photo by Don Clark, Yale sports publicity)
(photo by Don Clark, Yale sports publicity)

STUART, Fla.- The Yale heavyweight crew team, keeping with tradition, spent the first days of the New Year together rowing in Florida.  The team took its annual winter training trip again this year to the eastern coast of the state in the last days of the winter break.  Taking advantage of the unfrozen waters of the St. Lucie Lock, the team was able to log 18 training sessions over the course of its 10-day trip.  In the eyes of head coach Steve Gladstone, the trip presents an invaluable opportunity to refine the technical aspects of the stroke.

"Water time with the students when they're out of their normal routine of classes is very useful in developing much of the stroke and boat feel," said Gladstone. "There are absolutely no distractions so people can get plenty of rest.  It's an environment in which you can make significant progress in the mechanics of your rowing. The objective is to get the mechanics of the stroke set so that when we get back on the water [in Connecticut] in late February, the mechanics are there and that time can be used for the selection of line-ups and we can prepare to race. "


While the warm weather and lack of assignments for a full class schedule are the cornerstones of the progress made in Florida, what's gained from the trip extends past just the technical nuances of the stroke.  Senior Gerard Kuenning, who had been on the trip three times previously, explained the other values of spending time away from Yale as a team.

"The work we do during these winter training trips serves a number of developmental purposes, the most obvious being to improve our fitness," said Kuenning. "The second, and arguably more meaningful, reason this time is important relates to honing the team's sense of purpose. Over the past four years, we've been much better able to create a sense of internal competition within the group, which translates directly to greater boat speed during the spring. The squad's ambition to win and race at the level we are capable of has seen huge shifts forward over years past in Florida, with this trip being no exception." 

The climate of Florida allows the team to make progress at an impressive rate, and most importantly foreshadows the conditions of the upcoming season.  In his first year on the team, freshman John Risbergs put the trip into the context of the team's spring racing schedule.
"In an environment where all you do is eat sleep and row, the Florida trip was a great experience for the entire team," reported Risbergs. Although 10 days of rowing led to bloody hands and drained bodies, we knew that the work we put in would give us the edge come springtime."

The squad, now back in New Haven, will stay off the water until the weather permits.  Until then, the Bulldogs will continue to gain fitness and refine their technique in the tanks. As the springtime season approaches, the crewmembers will be able to reflect on their time spent in Florida, and focus on the season ahead.

"In the spring, races are won by parts of seconds, so you see the absolute need to build a strong technical platform.  This is hard work that's rewarding.  [The Florida trip] is an essential piece of what we do," said Gladstone.


Report filed by Ari Zimmet '16, Yale Sports Publicity.