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    Saturday, September 30, 2023

    Yale-Harvard Regatta No. 156 set for Saturday on the Thames

    In this 2022 file photo, Yale coach Steve Gladstone talks to the media at the Yale Boat House at Gales Ferry. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Ledyard – During his legendary career, Steve Gladstone has focused on the task at hand.

    But it may be difficult for Gladstone to follow the same steady course on Saturday at the 156th running of the Yale-Harvard Regatta on the Thames River.

    It will be his last race as Yale coach.

    Gladstone, 82, is retiring after 50 plus years in the profession, including the last 13 at Yale.

    He can’t help but reminisce a bit this week.

    “I’m preparing for the race,” Gladstone said. “And that’s what is dominant in my mind. When I’m not engaged in that mental process, I do think about the last one. There’s definitely a sadness to it.

    “But my mind is busy with what’s in front of my nose.”

    There’s certainly been plenty of joy over the years for Gladstone.

    Gladstone had many memorable moments, including while coaching in the nation’s oldest collegiate sporting event. He’s won 14 Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships.

    When asked why he’s stayed in the coaching business for so long, Gladstone responded: “I love it. I love it with all the stress. When I think carefully about it, I love the teaching. I love the day-by-day process and the training. It’s very compelling.”

    Yale has dominated the regatta in recent years, with the heavyweight varsity crew winning the last five races. Last June, the Bulldogs set an upstream record, completing the course in 18 minutes, 17.4 seconds.

    Once again, the Bulldogs will be the favorite on Saturday when the two teams meet at the starting line under the Gold Star Bridge (racing upstream). Last weekend, they competed in the IRA National Championships in New Jersey, finishing third in the Ten Eyck Memorial Trophy standings. They captured their seventh straight Eastern Sprints title last month.

    But anything can happen in the four-mile race, much longer than the traditional distance for other events.

    “What people have to understand, there’s a radical difference between four miles and 2,000 meters…,” Gladstone said. “It makes it interesting, so you can’t have any assumptions about what’s going to go on. What you do is you have to keep your nose to the grindstone and coach your crew.”

    Harvard is gearing up to challenge Yale.

    “We’re rounding into form and we feel like we’re going to be ready,” said coach Charley Butt during an interview at Red Top, Harvard’s regatta home overlooking The Thames. “These guys look forward to their part in this tradition.”

    This will be senior captain Olympian Clark Dean’s final collegiate race. And this will be his final chance to beat Yale.

    He feels good about his crew.

    “It’s a totally different beast,” Dean said of the regatta. “It’s always the one we build to the whole year, every boat.”

    There’s a chance of rain in the forecast for Saturday. The first race begins at 2:15 p.m, and the last at 4 p.m.

    The outcome will have a lasting impact on both teams.

    “For these two camps and these two universities, this is the season, period,” Gladstone said. “There’s no exaggeration there. It’s shocking to me. This is the season. Anybody who wins this race has a warm glow that lasts a lifetime. Anybody who loses this race, it’s not a great feeling.”

    “And it stays with you. That’s the way it is.”

    g.keefe@theday.com

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