March 25, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - With fourth-place finishes in each of the last two years at the NCAA Team Championships and back-to-back varsity eight national titles, it might have been tempting for the Yale women's crew team to rest on its laurels and relax during the long and tedious off-season workouts in the tanks in the basement of Payne Whitney Gym. Nothing could be further from the truth.
"Winter training has been very productive," said Will Porter, who is in his 10th year as the head coach of the Bulldogs. "Our fitness level is higher than it has been in the past."
That is good news for a Yale squad seeking its third straight varsity eight national title and eighth straight appearance in the NCAA Team Championships. The Bulldogs are loaded with experience. Eight of the nine members of last year's varsity eight return along with a number of the key members from the second varsity and varsity four boats. Add in a freshman class with excellent credentials and optimism is high at the Gilder Boathouse.
Yale, whose varsity eight was ranked first in the CRCA-USRowing preseason poll, gets its first test on Saturday, racing for the Connell Cup against Columbia and Penn at Orchard Beach Lagoon in Pelham, N.Y.
"Saturday marks our first opportunity to race and work on covering the 2,000-meter distance with these new crews," Porter said. "All of our athletes have much to learn. We do not have any Olympians on our team, which means everyone needs to keep improving."
The Bulldogs will have only two races on its home course on the Housatonic River in Derby - April 18 against Princeton for the Eisenburg Cup and May 2 against Brown for the Nat & Anne Case Cup. Yale will celebrate its 35th anniversary and honor the 1979 championship team on the weekend of the Princeton race. The celebration includes activities on Friday evening, a full day on Saturday and brunch on Sunday. The 1979 varsity eight went undefeated, captured the Eastern Sprints title and Yale's first national championship.
Both championship races this spring will take place on the Cooper River in Cherry Hill, N.J. - the Eastern Sprints on May 17 and the NCAA Championships on May 29-31.
Connell Cup Race Schedule
10:20 a.m. Coxswain meeting
11:40 a.m. - Varsity 4 B (Columbia, Penn, Yale)
12:00 p.m. - Varsity 4 A (Columbia, Penn, Yale)
12:20 - Second Varsity 8 (Columbia, Penn, Yale)
12:40 - Varsity 8 (Columbia, Penn, Yale)
1:00 - Varsity 4 C (Columbia A, Columbia B, Penn, Yale)
1:20 - Novice 8 (Columbia, Penn, Yale)
Yale Boatings Vs. Columbia And Penn
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity