Crimson Oarsmen Overwhelm Crews in Egypt
Harvard's heavyweight crew recovered from a poor start Sunday to gain a convincing victory over international competition in the first of two races in the Nile Festival Regatta.
The Crimson, in a field of six crews which included Oxford, Cambridge. Yale and two Egyptian crews, got off to a false start when they tangled up with a fishing vessel serving as a stake boat.
Cambridge and Oxford jumped to early leads as Harvard caught a starboard-side crab at the second start. A quarter of the way through the 2000 meter race, the Crimson took over the lead and, rowing continuously at a 36, held on to win.
The heavies, rowing downstream in a stiff current, clocked an amazingly fast time of 5:17, 41 seconds better than their winning time of last year, 5:58. Second place Cambridge was back by five seconds at 5:22, followed closely by Oxford with 5:24. The two Egyptian crews and last place Yale finished well back of the leaders.
Heavyweight crew coach Harry Parker accompanied the 11 Harvard oarsmen selected for the Egypt race. Co-captains Gene La Barre and Bill Mahoney are both in Egypt for the second time along with junior Dave Fellows. Making the Cairo trip for the first time are juniors Peter Blair. Carter Dodge. Tim Hosea, Peter Lowe. Won Kim and Jim Owen, and sophomores Ed Woodhouse and Ron Shaw.
The race, held at Luxor, 420 miles south of Cairo, will be followed by a second at Cairo today. Harvard, the winner of the regatta last year, will face the same British and American crews plus the Cairo Police and at least one Egyptian university eight.
Before the race the oarsmen attended consecration ceremonies and festivities at the Temple of Luxor which adjoins the course. The races, re-enactments of annual ceremonies held in the Valley of the Kings over 3000 years ago, are designed to celebrate the past and stimulate Egyptian tourism.
The Crimson oarsmen traveled to London at their own expense since no University funds were available for the Cairo trip. The Egyptian government took care of all travel and accommodation expenses once the crews arrived in England.
The heavies managed only through last-minute appeal and some strong lobbying with senior tutors to reverse an Administrative Board decision which had denied permission for Harvard to attend the Egypt races. The Ad Board originally ruled out the trip on the grounds that it would cut into regular class sessions.
Coach Parker was happy about the Ad Board's reversal and his oarsmen's role in it. "I never thought that the Ad Board would change its mind; it was most surprising. The fellows did all the talking and were persuasive. I think it's really fine," he said.
The Ad Board, in reversing its decision, however, made it clear that the exception was granted on a one-time basis only and that no precedent had been set for future races.
"I'm fairly sure that the Ad Board won't do this for us next year. They allowed the trip this time only because there had been a lot of preparations made and because the oarsmen expected to go; it was a moment for compromise, but next year won't be." Parker said shortly before the crew's departure.
If the Crimson wins its second race today at Cairo, and if the Ad Board does not allow the crew to compete in next year's races, then Harvard will have to send the Nile Festival Regatta Trophy back to Egypt alone next winter.