Two top-10 teams proved too much for the men’s heavyweight rowing team to handle, as Cornell fell to No. 8 Yale and No. 5 Princeton in the 84th Carnegie Cup on Saturday morning to close out the regular season portion of its schedule. The Red came away with two wins and two losses that came by less than a second on a day that featured some of the team’s closest races of 2010.
“I thought that all the boats actually rowed to their best at this point in the season,” said head coach Todd Kennett ’91. “I saw a lot of great speed out of all the boats. I saw some guys in there doing stuff that we’ve been talking a lot about and working on, but I hadn’t really seen them put it together, and everybody I thought put it together really well.”
Yale upset the field in the Varsity Eight matchup with a time of 5.25.6 –– just ahead of Princeton (5:27.0) and Cornell (5:29.7).
The second Varsity race actually resulted in a photo finish, as both the Red and Tigers appeared to cross the finish line at 5:33.3.
“They had to go to the video tape to tell us that we lost by six inches or something like that,” Kennett said.
Kennett also alluded to the fact that the next step for his team is “making sure that we work to a higher quality ... so that when we get in those situations that are tight we can go up again and give it that last punch that we needed.”
Cornell’s third Varsity crew also fell to its Yale opponent by the slimmest of margins –– only half a second.
“I would have liked to have won a couple of the races that we lost because I thought we were in positions to win. ... We were ahead in several of them,” Kennett said.
Sophomore D.J. Vaglia mentioned that what made the day’s races particularly interesting were the dynamics of the race course. The Housatonic River, which runs through Derby, Conn., features a 200-meter turn in the middle of the course that required the boats to be staggered anywhere from four to eight seats at the start of the race.
“The issue that creates is when you start racing ... the boat that is down does not get to see the other boat’s race, unless you start catching up with them,” Vaglia said. “The boat that’s in front gets to see the boat behind it and that often gives that boat the advantage because you can see the other boats ... and for some reason being ahead makes you pull harder sometimes. ... If you’re behind, sometimes crews get discouraged and that will cause them to go slower.”
Vaglia added that in the third Varsity race, his crew was eventually able to pull even with Yale coming out of the turn.
“When you see the [other] boat right next to you, you actually start racing. Towards the last 700 meters we were pretty much even and at that point it became more [about] who could pull harder or who could sprint faster. Our sprint unfortunately wasn’t as fast as theirs was, and as a result we lost by a fraction of a second,” he added.
The Red’s freshman boats saw better results than its upperclassmen counterparts over the weekend, as the Freshman Eight crew held on to defeat Princeton, 5:33.9––5:34.3. Meanwhile, the second Varsity team bested host Yale by a convincing 16 seconds.
Having concluded the regular season portion of its schedule, Cornell now sets its sights on the postseason, which commences with Eastern Sprints the weekend of May 14 in Worcester, Mass.
“It’s really bittersweet. Because you always like to end on a win ... get your rankings up, stuff like that. At the same time I’m looking at it saying their performance was so solid I can’t get mad at them about that. I think it’s a little more fragile because we didn’t win that we have to really work on building and boosting our confidence ... we’re going to have to have some really good practices,” Kennett said.