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Behind the Photo: Unsinkable Yale
June 12, 2020
Oli Rosenbladt, row2k

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The Yale V8 in awful conditions at New London

The Yale V8 in awful conditions at New London - Click for full-size image!
Staring down 4 miles of lumpy water - Click for full-size image!
H/Y crews at the start - Click for full-size image!
Water up to (and over) the gunwales did not slow Yale down - Click for full-size image!

Editor's Note: In a normal year, row2k photographers will take over 100,000 photos of racing, awards, occasionally wildlife and general regatta goofiness. For our photographers, some photos are really memorable; either they were great shots, or the story behind the pic is a good one. "Behind the Shot" aims to capture those stories

You don't have to be a fan of Yale Crew to acknowledge that they are really, really good. The Yale heavies are large, athletic, row superbly, and have amassed an impressive record over the past half-decade.

In 2016, the Yale Varsity Eight was coming off a win at the Eastern Sprints and a close second place to Cal at the IRA going into the Harvard-Yale regatta. On June 12, 2016, the conditions at New London deteriorated throughout the day, with a brutal headwind pushing up the course, against the current.

The Harvard-Yale racecourse in 2016 was laid out upstream, with the 3V two-mile race and the 2V three-mile racing rowing in rough, but manageable conditions. As the 1V crews were lining up at the four-mile starting line, it was obvious that the extra mile downstream was worse than anything any of the other crews had seen. The water conditions that day may have been the worst "let's go with it" racing water I have seen at a regatta, ever.

Chief Referee Dug Stowe polled both sets of coaches and crews, and both teams opted to go ahead with the race.

The Yale Varsity absolutely hammered off the starting line, and were clearly not going to give an inch to either their opponents or the conditions. Visually, it looked as if each rower in the boat grew 6 inches and gained 50 pounds at that moment in the race; it was one of the most confident, impressive displays of go-for-broke racing that I have witnessed.

The irony is that the race itself was never fully rowed out; the Harvard Varsity swamped about half a mile into the race, and the race was declared a "no result," to no one's real satisfaction.

What I will remember, however, is how powerful and absolutely committed the Yale eight looked.

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06/16/2020  6:21:08 PM
They were a really fast boat that year, but it might of interest to confirm or deny my understanding that they had 3 electric bilge pumps going in their boat, which might have something to do with their confidence and the fact that they did not swamp.

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