Varsity Heavyweight Crew Coach Harvey Love has five oarsmen returning from the boat that beat Yale badly last year, but among those missing is former stroke and Captain Perry Boyden, whom Love considers "one of the greatest strokes in Harvard history and in American rowing."
Filling Boyden's shoes is now one of the primary problems facing Love and the squad members themselves. It is not the only challenge, however. In this spring practice session on the water, considerably shortened by the weather, Love has to find a first boat combination, filling in the meantime two power positions, five and six, the other vacated posts.
Returning from last year's first boat are Alan Hager at bow, John Higginson at two, John Hodges at three, William Bancroft at four, and Spencer Borden at seven. Love emphasizes, however, that these rowers "have to make the boat" again this year, and that they may be in different positions.
Love has the JV's and last year's freshmen to choose from, but the freshmen oarsmen rowing at positions five and six have not returned this year, thus also adding to Love's losses.
At present, Love does not know what will be the final boatings. Because of the late start, "We haven't yet reached the point in training when we can get the stroke high enough to see if form will be retained," Love said. "We just started to move the stroke up this week."
Spring Vacation Crucial
Practice during spring vacation will be the crucial period for the crew's development, but things are already happening very fast. "Each day is pretty important," Love stated, "both for team and personal improvement."
As for the stroke position, Dick Masland, who stroked last year's freshman boat, is the only oarsman who has been in that position for a full season. "I feel sure that the people involved will make the effort to become a varsity stroke," said Love. "I'm not asking for another Boyden, only for a good stroke in his own right."
Looking at the season as a whole, Love said, "I recognize that we have lost some valuable people, but we have a lot of potential. I remain optimistic that we will continue a respectable crew." He then added, "But it mostly depends on the oarsmen themselves."
Coolidge Coaches Lightweights
In the lightweights, Coach Laurance Coolidge returns after a year's absence from Newell Boathouse. Coolidge, who produced two undefeated crews in '59 and '60, will try to maintain the Lightweight's supremacy in the Blast, but it won't be an easy thing to do.
For one thing, bad weather kept the crews off the water until the 15th, cutting out about two weeks of vital spring practice. Thus Coolidge is already operating under a serious handicap. To make matters worse, the first race against Navy is a week earlier than usual, with the result that he has even less time to put together a workable combination.
As though the weather and scheduling were not enough. Coolidge is also faced with the lack of any hard nucleus of rowers with racing experience. "We have a very green squad," Coolidge said, "with no experienced core to fall back on or to set an example for the rest of the team."
Coolidge is not without optimism, however, "We have a great deal of potential among our squad of 28 oarsmen," he said, "so we should be able to come up with something."
Captain Jim Miller is the only returning oarsman of last year's varsity, and so the freshmen from last year "will have to help." Though it wasn't an "outstanding" group, it won the Eastern championship, and should prove of some use. Coolidge will also be able to count on some members from the JV's.
Because of the late start, Coolidge hasn't had time yet to put together any final boatings. "I have no idea what the first boat will be," he remarked. "We are still practicing at a very low stroke--an 18, and I won't know until I can get the stroke up."
The crews will probably get to a racing stroke towards the end of spring vacation, during which there will be two practices a day. In that event, the final boatings will still only be set just a week before the race with Navy on April 14. Coolidge's biggest problems are at the stroke and six positions.
The Middies, being the Southernmost crew raced by Harvard, could very well be the Crimson's toughest opponent. Coolidge explained that Navy has been rowing outside since January and February, and thus will have a very definite advantage. Last year, the lightweights lost their first race against Navy, and won every one thereafter.
The lightweights, then, have a hard uphill road to climb, but anything can happen. "Luck plays a very important part," Coolidge emphasizes. He had to "start from scratch" in his undefeated year in 1959, and the three returning lettermen he did have rowed on the JV's in the beginning. Maybe the same thing will happen again.