August 2, 2010

Lightweight Crew Competes in International University Rowing Regatta as Part of China Trip

BEIJING - Yale's lightweight crew team competed in the 2010 International University Rowing Regatta this past weekend. The event is part of a week-long visit to China for the Bulldogs, which includes time for sight-seeing and cultural activities.

After leaving New Haven Wednesday morning, the Bulldogs spent Friday and Saturday in China preparing the boats and practicing at the venue. Sunday was competition day, with opening ceremonies of dance and welcome speeches.

Yale's crew, led by assistant coach Colin Farrell, included rising sophomore Franz Colloredo-Mansfield (South Hamilton, Mass.), rising senior Colin Corcoran (Lansdale, Pa.), John Grunyk '10 (Lincolnshire, Ill.), Jeremy Hopkins '10 (Dresher, Pa.), Michael Jonas '10 (Freeport, N.Y.), rising senior Michael LeFevour (Wilmette, Ill.), Noah McColl '10 (Salt Spring, B.C.), rising senior Rachel Morgan (Palos Verdes, Calif.), rising junior Christopher Murphy (Holbrook, N.Y.) and rising senior William Zeng (Great Falls, Va.).

The regatta was held in hot and humid conditions, but not much wind, providing a fair race course. Yale competed against Cambridge, Harvard and Oxford. The Bulldogs finished second in the first heat, with Harvard leading from start to finish. Cambridge was third and Oxford was fourth. The finals saw the same results.

In heavyweight competition, Princeton won the first heat but in the finals Tsinghua University came away with the win. The competition also included London University, Pavia University (Italy), South China Normal University and University of Otago (New Zealand).

The regatta was held at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing/Canoeing Park in Beijing. This park was built and used for the 2008 Olympic Games as the venue for canoeing, marathon swimming and rowing. The park is also intriguing for its spectacular natural beauty.

On Monday, the team participated in Dragon races with some Chinese guests at the same venue. The races were preceded by the traditional painting of the dragon eyes and ears with ginger root. Colloredo-Mansfield and Morgan were the designated painters.

In the first Dragon race, unfortunately Yale experienced equipment failure and the dragon boat headed straight for the rocks with a misguided rudder. The Bulldogs' Chinese hosts were gracious enough to allow the team to try again. Yale then won its race, coming from behind a strong South China Normal team and overtaking the lead at the 250-meter mark to win.

After lunch, the teams were bused into Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City for sightseeing. They also experienced the challenges of the sellers at the Silk Market.

On Tuesday Yale will see the Great Wall and Beijing National Stadium (known as "The bird's nest") before boarding a flight to Chengdu for another regatta.

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