Men’s crew teams have trouble in weekend battles with Cornell

by Joe Clyne | 5/5/15 4:55pm

The men’s heavyweight and lightweight crew teams had trying weekends as the rowing season approaches its conclusion. Neither team won a race as Cornell University dominated the weekend’s affairs.

The heavyweight team spent the weekend in Philadelphia on the Schuylkill River racing in the Madeira Cup. The Madeira Cup is traditionally a race between Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania, but the Big Green competed this year as guests.

With little wind and no current on the Schuylkill, times were solid for all three teams. Overall, the Big Green put up a middling performance, failing to beat Cornell in any races but taking down Penn in two of the four classes.

In the first varsity eight boat, Cornell finished the 2,000-meter course in 5:35.4, while Penn finished in 5:37.2 and Dartmouth brought up the rear in 5:39.5.

“Penn and Cornell kind of jumped us at the start by about a length in the first 1,000 meters, and there was some open water,” Bobby Moffitt ’16 said. “In the second 1,000, we clawed back in and got the margin down to about two seconds on Penn. Cornell had opened up about a two-second lead on Penn, so we were four back of them. It was good, hard racing by all crews. They’re both top-notch teams.”

The second varsity eight put together a more dispiriting performance, finishing in 5:54.0, 11 seconds behind the victorious Big Red. Penn also beat out the Big Green’s second squad, finishing in 5:51.3.

A glimmer of hope came from the heavyweights’ third varsity eight performance. Here, the Big Green managed to take down the Quakers, though they still finished behind the dominating Big Red. Dartmouth’s third varsity eight finished in 5:53.2, a time that beat out the Big Green’s second varsity eight.

“The 3V boat had a pretty good race,” Jamie Billings ’16 said. “We’ve had a lot of lineup changes. We jumped out with Cornell, but they opened up a lead of almost a length. The Cornell 3V is one of the best in the country and overall, we were very happy with our race.”

Finally, the Big Green put two boats forward in the fourth varsity eight category. Both boats took down Penn’s fourth boat, but once again the Big Red reigned supreme, taking home this race as well. Cornell walked away from the weekend winning both the Madeira Cup and the Wray Cup, which goes to the team that accrues the most points over the course of the weekend.

The heavyweight squad walked away from the weekend with a renewed understanding of the importance of quick starts, Billings said.

“The biggest takeaway is being aggressive right off the bat. Rowing is pretty much mental — there’s a big mental component,” Billings said. “It’s a lot harder to catch up than when you get an early lead or are right next to a crew. When you’re rowing next to another crew, that provides you with a little extra motivation.”

The lightweight crew team had a tough weekend, as Cornell again controlled the weekend. The Big Green lightweights took on Cornell on the Cayuga Lake Inlet to compete for the Baggaley Bowl. The Big Red won all four races with the Big Green finishing more than 10 seconds off the lead in each one.

“We knew we would have tough races, but we were not overall pleased with the outcomes,” Matt Marcus ’16 said. “A number of boats felt they didn’t perform as well as we could have given our practice times.”

The Big Green’s closest race came in the third varsity eight category, where the Big Green finished in 6:25.3. The Big Red finished in 6:15.0, even though the team entered its fourth-best boat against Dartmouth’s third best.

“Cornell is really good this year,” Marcus said. “Their top boat and their third varsity are the best in the country and their second and fourth boats are both second in the country, so we knew that they would have a pretty competitive crew.”

Both the heavyweight and lightweight crews will now cast their focus to the Eastern Sprints on May 17 in Worcester, Massachusetts.

“We’ve already improved from last year. It sort of comes down to our place this year at Eastern Sprints,” Moffitt said. “We want to get into that grand final and that involves beating some crews that have beaten us earlier this year. We’re getting faster and hopefully we’ll be able to get our bows ahead of theirs.”