Now in the final practice stretch for their first race in two and a half weeks, the Crimson heavyweight oarsmen are settling down to try and solve a difficulty that has plagued them for the last few years: their inability to attain a really high speed over short distances The course for the Olympic races in Tokyo this summer as well as for the American trials in early July will be the 2000 meter sprint.
Traditionally powerful at a low stroke over long distances, the Crimson last year capped Coach Harry Parker's fine first season as varsity coach with an overwhelming eight length victory against Yale over a four mile course. But the varsity failed even to qualify for the finals of the Eastern Sprints, while Yale finished second only to the Big Red of Cornell.
Five members of last year's varsity boat have returned, and Parker has also been able to draw from seven of last year's undefeated freshman crew and from five of the JV's. This group of talented oarsmen--the best Harvard has had in a number of years--gives the crew tremendous potential.
Blessed with excellent weather last fall, the heavyweights have already made some progress. "By the time of our fall race," Parker said, "we had three crews rowing as well and as fast as any one crew we've had in previous fall rowings."
In addition, a rigorous program of weight lifting, running, and other training devices over the winter months and the concentrated practice session over spring vacation have put the heavyweights "in very good condition." Sprit, too, is high, as the squad's depth has resulted in the keenest competition for seats in years.
But whether Parker has found the best combination for his varsity boat and licked the Crimson's difficulties with short distances will not be apparent for yet another month.
At present, the varsity and JV combinations are "showing signs of jelling and are beginning to develop good speed. Captain Harry Pollock, at the five position, leads the varsity which includes four other members of last year's first boat: juniors Geoff Picard at stroke, Paul Gunderson at six, Tom Pollock at four, and Bob Schwar at bow.
The remaining three are recruits from last year's JV's: junior Bob Whitney at seven, senior Ed Quattlebaum at three, and junior Geoffrey Gratwick at two. Senior Ted Washburn is in his second year as coxswain. Parker plans to stay with this combination for a while.
The obvious crew to beat among the heavyweights will be Cornell, winner of last year's sprints. Yale, which finished second, is also confident, and Navy and M.I.T. will also be strong contenders.
Seeking Top Spot
In the lightweights, Coach Freddy Cabot will be seeking to regain the top spot among Eastern crews which the Crimson held from 1958 through 1961. Cornell and M.I.T. defeated the Crimson last year with "sheer brute strength," Cabot said, and he hopes to beef up his first boat this year while maintaining its good rowing style.
The lightweights will open Harvard's rowing season against Columbia and Rutgers here April 18. Though Cabot feels "we have a long way to go," their performance has been encouraging. The varsity rowed a time trial Tuesday faster than any time last year, and if this improvement continues, Cabot could regain the title.
Though no boat is final until race day, Cabot intends to stay for a while with senior Dick Masland at stroke, sophomores Roman Nowygrod and Allan Tice at seven and six, senior Charles McClennen at five, sophomores Peter Schwab at four and Bruce Stevenson at three, Captain Jim MacMahon at two and Martyn Greenacre at bow.