Having blazed a brilliant path of victory to its training quarters at Red Top, an undefeated Crimson eight is smoothing out rough edges for the final four-mile grind against Yale. When it annexed the mythical sprint championship of the East after beating Navy, no other crew in Harvard's racing history had realized its potentialities as well as Captain Spike Chace's Varsity eight under the patient and critical eye of Coach Tom Bolles.
A lot or rowing critics like to attribute the success of the Varsity boat to the outstanding stroking of Spike Chace who has handled the number eight position for four full years at College. Tom Bolles thinks the six-foot-four, 194-pound pacer is one of the finest oarsmen in the country, probably the best that Harvard has ever had. In every race this year it was Chace who kept the bladesmen at the cool 32 beat which may prove a dilemma to Captain Johson's confident Blue outfit.
But no one man, no matter how proficient at the blade, can make a crew. The 1938 boat has won its fame through its unison, its even body swing which is the foundation of the Bolles method. He has arranged it so that when well under way the shell will plane steadily with three feet of the bow completely out of water.
Bob Stevens at number seven seat has come up from last year's Freshman eight and Middlesex combinations. One of the smoothest blades in the boat, the 20-year-old Sophomore is an efficient pace setter for the starboard side with a keen sense of timing and a lot of power behind his strokes. Doug Erickson, a Senior, at number six, has had long years of rowing experience and is a conscientious, dependable man behind Chace.
Rowing at number five oar in John Gardiner who has held down this position on the Varsity for two years. A perfect stylist, Gardiner rates with the captain as one of the country's best oarsmen. Walt Kernan, a burly Sophomore, at the number four side, succeeds his brother Reg at the job and what he lacks in form he makes up in power. Although experienced at number six on his Freshman crew, he has a tendency to lean out to port.
At number three blade is Dud Talbot who was shifted at the eleventh hour last year to race against Yale. He ends the six-foot-three block which extends from the number seven to three position. John Richards '40 is at the two oar and while still a bit ragged has exceptional endurance.
Veteran John Clark at the bow slide is one of the most versatile oarsmen in the boat, having rowed port for some time before being considered a candidate for number seven oar.