The Bulldogs Take It All

The Yale Varsity crew back at the dock at Gales Ferry as victors after beating Harvard by five seconds. Photo: Göran R Buckhorn/HTBS.

11 June 2017

Göran R Buckhorn writes:

The Yale Varsity crew ended a perfect season yesterday by winning over Harvard in the 152nd Harvard-Yale Regatta on the Thames River. As both Yales’s 2nd and 3rd Varsity crews also won their races, the Bulldogs took a clean sweep, the first one since 1996.

The weather was beautiful and the racing conditions were close to perfect on the Thames in New London, not at all like last year’s choppy water, which created waves that made the Harvard Varsity boat sink.

First out on Saturday morning, at 9:15 a.m., was the Third Varsity two-mile race from Mamacoke Hill to Bartlett’s Cove. Crimson took an early lead, but at the half-mile mark, they were down three seats. With a half mile to go, Yale had open water, and although Harvard closed the gap slightly, Yale’s victory was never in jeopardy. Yale’s time 9:33.7, Harvard’s time 9:39.0. Rowing in the Elis boat was Yale captain Robert Hurn who, due to illness, had had to sit out IRA National Championships, missing out on becoming a national champion.

The Second Varsity three-mile race started at 10 a.m. by the Coast Guard Academy. The Bulldogs went for an aggressive start and already at the first quarter mile they had open water to the Crimson boat. The Yale crew continued to pull hard and crossed the finish line at Bartlett’s Cove nine seconds ahead of Harvard, the largest winning margin of the day. Yale’s winning time was 14:30.3, Harvard’s 14:39.7.

Coming to the start line under the Gold Star Bridge as national champions must have given Yale’s Varsity boat great confidence. But while the Bulldogs looked like the strongest crew during the first 25 strokes, the Crimson crew just hung in there not allowing the Blue crew to take off. Yale might have won the IRA National Championships, but Harvard took the bronze and early on it was clear that the Crimson crew were not going to give up that easily. At the half mile mark, the crews were level. Yale was a couple of seats up at the one mile mark, but while both crews put in some spurts the other crew just kept coming. At the three-mile mark, the bulldogs were up three seats but could not shake off the Crimson crew. Then, with half a mile to go, the Elis put in an extra gear – who thought that they had that much gas left in them at this stage – and it looked like they were flying, leaving Harvard behind.

Nate Goodman, Yale four seat, told the press: ‘I was anticipating a close race. That last half mile was a lot of relief and a lot of pain.’

Yale’s winning time was 18:56.1 and Harvard’s time was 19:01.4. A great race to now file in the history books.

Yale’s bow Ollie Wynne-Griffith holding the Sexton Cup in a fast grip. Photo: Göran R Buckhorn/HTBS.

After last year’s fiasco, were there any rules for racing this year? Yale’s website writes that the regatta ‘was operated under USRowing Rules and officiated by Laura Kunkemueller, who got the regatta committee to agree on a two-minute “breakage time” that allows for stopping the race to fix what may go wrong. This was instituted after Harvard’s varsity was swamped last June and the race became uncontested. The Bulldogs, who finished the 2016 race, could not claim victory.’

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