NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The defending national champion Yale women's crew team will kick off the new season on Saturday with the 16th installment of Head of the Housatonic. The Bulldogs will host teams from throughout the Northeast at their home course on the Housatonic River, in Derby, Conn. The Head of the Housatonic is now the second largest fall race in New England, after the Head of the Charles. Participating in the race will be boats from Fordham, Radcliffe, UMass and Williams.
"Head of the Housatonic is our first race every fall season, which couldn't be more convenient, as it's at our home course," noted captain Caroline Nash. "This way, we get a taste of competition without having to worry about unfamiliar traffic patterns or courses. There are always obviously things still to iron out coming into the first race, so we're definitely going to be using this as a trail by fire."
This regatta will be the Yale's first since winning the national championship for a third time in the past four years last season. Thus, it will be the first in a series of tune-ups as the team tries to build towards the same caliber of performance that it has achieved in the past. It will also be an opportunity for the Elis to compete as a full team for the first time, against some high-caliber competition.
"There has obviously been a lot of talk about how different this year is going to be than last year," said Nash, "that's the case for just about any college sport, every year. I really like this year's team so far. The freshmen have really stepped it up and found their place on the team in just a matter of weeks."
As the Bulldogs progress through the fall season, they will hope to build towards a successful spring. In the fall, the main goals are to reintroduce technique after a summer of training, and work on collectively honing a competitive racing spirit.
"If nothing else, we're hoping to practice performance with our fall season, and see where the chips fall," said Nash.
"This season is shaping up well so far," she added. Its hard though, especially in crew, to forecast past a couple of weeks. People get injured, others step it up, boats catch a rhythm, and fitness marches on as the 'be all end all.' Crew is a sport that moves very slowly, so its hard to say where we will be, even in a week, which is what makes it so exciting."
Racing begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday.
Report by Arsi Sefaj '11, Yale Sports Publicity