The men’s heavyweight Varsity 8 crew may have lost the Goes Trophy to No. 7 Navy by only two seconds, but the Red did not come away from the Onondaga Lake Outlet in Syracuse, empty-handed, as first-place finishes by the second Varsity and first freshmen boats earned Cornell the Stagg Point Trophy.
“I thought it was really good,” head coach Todd Kennett ’91 said of his team’s overall performance. “I was really happy that a lot of the boats came up big — far bigger than we’ve been seeing in some practices. It was just a great race day anyway, but the times were really solid.”
Saturday marked the second time in as many weeks that the first Varsity crew faced Navy — the first being at the San Diego Crew Classic from March 31-April 1. The Midshipmen once again got the better of the Red, this time by a margin of 5:48.3 to 5:50.2. The Orange finished third with a time of 5:52.0.
“The Varsity — I thought — was better than what they’ve been doing, but I still know they’re capable of more,” Kennett said.
Comparing this race to the team’s performance in San Diego, he noted “We raced better. I feel like we’re making some really positive strides.”
Kennett went on to say that “from what I can see, we were under-stroking [Navy] — so taking less strokes per minute. We were matching a lot of their speeds; we moved back on them several times, which was the first time we’ve done that. So there were some very positive things to the race, but we still didn’t quite put all of it together.”
The second Varsity crew, meanwhile, finished with a time of 5:49.7, ahead of Syracuse (5:50.4) and Navy (5:54.8). The Freshmen 8 boat also crossed the line ahead of the Midshipmen and Orange, coming in at 5:49.3 — a full eight seconds faster than second-place Navy. Kennett said the third Varsity and second Freshmen crews also raced well, despite not winning
There was very little wind on the day, which made for ideal racing conditions. As Kennett explained, “the Varsity raced the earliest to try to get the best water, and of course there was still a roll on the lake and that actually died down as the racing went on, so it went flatter and flatter — it was great.”
According to Kennett, the heavyweight squad’s crews have “stayed pretty close to the same — a little bit of lineup changes, but that’s it — just guys flipping around in seats to get a little more chemistry.”
This upcoming weekend, Cornell will welcome Princeton and Yale — two “really good squads,” according to Kennett — to the Cayuga Lake Inlet. The Tigers are coming off a loss to perennial powerhouse Harvard, while Yale has been “winning a bunch of races,” Kennett said.
“It could be a really, really tough weekend, but a really fun weekend,” he added.
Kennett spoke to the importance of using the Red’s knowledge of the Inlet to its advantage.
“It’s their home course — if they don’t take advantage of every turn, of every landmark, it’d be crazy. They know exactly where they are, they should be able to know where to push. I’d like to think this would be a huge factor for them,” he said.
Also on Saturday, the No. 4 lightweight team traveled to Princeton, N.J., for a doubleheader against the Tigers and Yale Bulldogs on Lake Carnegie.
Cornell edged Princeton in the first Varsity 8 race by a mere 0.3 seconds to claim the Platt Cup for the first time since 2007. The Red also picked up victories over the Tigers in the second and third Varsity 8 races, but fell in the first Freshmen 8 race by 6.7 seconds as Princeton went on to win the Harriet Cup.
Later in the day, Yale defeated Cornell in the Varsity 8 race for the eighth consecutive season. The Red managed one win against the Bulldogs, which came on behalf of the third Varsity 8 crew.
Cornell’s lightweight squad will travel to Boston on Saturday to take on Columbia and MIT with the Geiger Cup on the line.