GOLD RIVER, Calif. — Yale’s role as season-long favorite concluded as it began Sunday morning on the calm water of Lake Natoma.
The Bulldogs rowed to their third straight varsity-eight title, solidly defeating runner-up and now three-time overall men’s points champion Washington at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association national championships.
Washington’s two earlier wins and another second in the day’s four Grand Final races gave the university the overall men’s points title with 207. Yale had 205, with California third at 189.
The points title was Washington’s 12th in the past 13th years and 16th overall.
The men’s results occurred a few hours after the women Huskies swept the three women’s finals in Indianapolis.
As a slight wind increased during the sunny morning and with a temperature of 72 degrees, Yale dominated the V8 finale of the three-day regatta at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center.
“I’m definitely really excited about the depth of the team,” UW coach Michael Callahan said. “To win the Ten Eyck Cup (points title) is one of our biggest team goals. In this field, I just feel it’s getting deeper and stronger. It was really a hard-fought trophy to win.”
The No. 1 Bulldogs moved to a four-seat cushion after 500 meters and expanded their margin to eight seats halfway through the 2,000-meter race.
“I think Yale had a great day,” said Callahan. “They have a dynamic, good strong crew and we knew they were really fast. I think our guys performed really well and left it all out there.”
The Huskies made a move in the third 500, slightly narrowing their deficit. But Yale persevered, finishing with a time of 5:32.93. Washington was second in 5:36.07 and Harvard third in 5:37.38.
“We had a good race today,” said Ben Davison, the seventh seat and one of four seniors in the Huskies’ V8 boat. “It was our best race of the three days. Honestly, I still think we have better in us.”
Washington, ranked No. 2, finished second in the V8 boat for the third straight year. The Huskies have 18 titles in the V8 boat dating to the debut in 1923. Washington last won in 2015. Yale has won the V8 title for three straight years.
“They (Yale) got away really quickly at the start,” said Davison. “We did our best to latch onto them and hold them and I thought we did that to the best of our abilities today.”
The Huskies began the final day after claiming three of four men’s semifinals Saturday, also under ideal conditions. It put Washington in good position for the overall points competition.
“Yale is a very, very strong crew and we knew that,” said junior Samuel Halbert, the sixth seat. “We gave it our best shot; the finish doesn’t represent the reason. Yale always has a strong first 750. We were just trying to hold contact with them. After the 1K that’s when we really started rowing; we knew we had a full 2K.”
About 45 minutes before the men’s V8 Grand Final, the Huskies’ second varsity eight placed second to dominating California. The Golden Bears had an open water lead after 1,000 meters and they were never challenged en route to winning in 5:38.320. Washington, rowing in lane 4, finished second in 5:40.34. Yale was third in 5:42.56.
In the third varsity eight Grand Final, Washington raced aggressively from the start, assumed an early lead and never trailed. Rowing in lane 2 and with Yale to the inside, the Huskies moved to a seven-seat lead halfway. Washington, at 39 1/2 strokes per minute, maintained its advantage and was victorious in 5:43.66. Yale was second in 5:46.08, with Harvard third in 5:47.47.
In the first of four men’s Grand Finals condensed into two hours of morning racing, Washington’s varsity fours claimed the Huskies’ first win of the day. Longtime rival California was second, with Princeton third.
Rowing in lane 1, with the Golden Bears to their right, the Huskies moved to a slight lead just after the start. The two boats quickly separated themselves from the rest of the six-boat final and raced side-by-side for several minutes.
California used a strong mid-race surge and moved into a slight lead. But Washington retaliated within the final 200 meters with its sprint and won in 6:19.86. It was the Huskies’ ninth straight varsity-fours title. The event wasn’t held last year at Mercer Lake in New Jersey because of inclement weather. California was second in 6:20.96, with Princeton third in 6:25.40.