April 13, 2022

No. 5 PU Women’s Open Crew Forging Ahead Excited for Showdown at 2nd-Ranked Yale

OPEN SEASON: Members of the Princeton University women’s open crew display the Class of 1975 Cup that the varsity 8 retained last Saturday after defeating Harvard and Cornell in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Later in the day, the fifth-ranked Tiger top boat topped Wisconsin to remain undefeated this spring. Princeton faces second-ranked Yale in New Haven on April 16 in the race for the Eisenberg Cup.

By Bill Alden

Last year, the Princeton University women’s open crew started its preseason training with socially-distanced ergometer workouts on the dock outside the Shea Rowing Center in the winter chill.

Things were a lot different for the rowers coming into this spring as the squad headed south to Florida for a preseason training trip in January.

“Everyone was so excited; I had just not seen that many smiles, that energy and that enthusiasm in a long time,” said Princeton head coach Lori Dauphiny.

“The group that was here last year was small and it was just a different time. There were so many restrictions. This was the first time where we got to travel together and be a team. It was really fun.”

While Dauphiny had a full squad on hand this spring, things are still very much a work in progress.

“Some came back ready to go and some were further behind,” said Dauphiny.

“This has been a time, this fall, winter and even early spring where we are working to come together and all be on the same page. It has been a challenge because of sickness in the month of February. I felt like we were making big strides and then we had a setback there. We are forging forward.”

The Tiger varsity 8 took a nice step forward in the opening regatta on March 26, defeating No. 8 Brown and No. 7 Ohio State to win the Class of 1987 Trophy. The top boat clocked a winning time of 6:21.3 over the 2,000-meter course with Brown taking second in 6:24.3 and Ohio State coming in third in 6:27.6.

“I was pleased all through the ranks, I thought everyone raced well,” said Dauphiny, reflecting on the opener.

“We didn’t win every event but winning the cup, the Class of 1987 Trophy, was exciting for us.”

Dauphiny believes her top boat is primed for an exciting season.

“It is a younger group overall,” said Dauphiny. “All classes are represented in the varsity 8 which is kind of cool. We are still developing as a team and as boats, especially with the sickness of February.”

Returning to competition last Saturday by heading north to Saratoga Springs, N.Y., the fifth-ranked Tigers showed good development, sweeping five races against Radcliffe, Cornell and Bucknell in the morning. The varsity 8 provided a highlight, earning the Class of 1975 Cup over Radcliffe and Cornell with a winning time of 6:26.062 with guest Bucknell taking second in 6:48.038, Radcliffe coming in third at  6:51.660, and Cornell finishing fourth in 6:59.970. In afternoon action, Princeton won three races against the University of Wisconsin.

“Last weekend was fantastic and it was all the way through the team from the 1V to the 2V4 which was really nice to see,” said Dauphiny.

“Everyone performed, it was a cool regatta. They called it the Saratoga Dual Invite. We raced our traditional Cup race which is the Class of 1975 Cup. We were excited to race Wisconsin because it is out of our conference. They race a lot of crews that we won’t see, there is a lot of overlap there that I think is important. Overlapping out of conference all the way to the NCAAs is important.”

Assessing the regatta overall, Dauphiny liked the grit displayed by her rowers across the board.

“I did see progress, the weather was awful last week,” said Dauphiny.

“It was very windy, it was not the best week for training on the water but the team persevered through it. I really did enjoy the racing this last weekend. It was just cloudy and raining the whole time but we did get to see the competition and that was really fun and it was good for the future.”

This weekend, the Tigers will encounter some more challenging races as they head up to second-ranked Yale with the Eisenberg Cup on the line.

“We are enthusiastic, energetic and excited to go but at the same time we are meeting up with some of the toughest competition in the country,” said Dauphiny.

“Yale is always strong competitors, they are great to race against. We haven’t been to Yale in some time because of COVID and those years, the last time we raced them was at Princeton. No one on the team has been to Yale yet. It will be a new experience for all, including the seniors.”

Facing a gauntlet of tough foes this spring will give Princeton valuable experience as it prepares for postseason racing next month with the Ivy League Championships slated for May 15 and the NCAA Championships scheduled for May 27-29.

“Our overall schedule is hard, it has some of the top crews in the country,” said Dauphiny.

“We are going to be racing against the defending national champions in Texas in the future. I think it is the most competitive spring racing schedule we have had. It is good to have a competitive schedule, you learn from every weekend. I feel good about that. They are in a good spot. I think they are nervous; there are a lot of unknowns and I think there will be more as you go down the road but that is the only way that you learn.”