Radcliffe Heavies Meet UMass on Charles; Lightweight Crew Takes on Phillips Academy
What can you say about a Radcliffe heavyweight crew that has seven rowers returning from its Sprints-winning varsity eight of last year? Awesome? Unbeatable? A sure bet to claim supremacy among women's collegiate crews for the fourth straight season?
You might say all of those things. But checking out the ambience around Weld Boathouse reveals that the mood on the eve of the season-opening race, is, shall we say, one of "cautious optimism," especially on the part of first-year coach Peter Raymond.
'Kiss of Death'
"It's a kiss of death to have almost your entire first boat back," said Raymond, in what appears to be his best imitation of Harry Parker-like understatement. "We're having some problems and it will take a lot of hard rowing before we reach anywhere near top speed."
Coxswain Nancy Hadly, now in her fourth year as Cliffe varsity heavy cox, echoed Raymond's sentiments.
"We feel that this is the year we'll really have to defend the title," Hadley said. "All the other colleges have improved and they'll be out for us. We have to set our goals for ourselves, and Peter is letting us do that. No, overconfidence is not a big problem."
Raymond, a Princeton graduate who coached last year's Harvard freshman lighweight Sprints champs, determined his boatings about a week ago. There were a couple of surprises--Gail Rasmussen and Ann Robinson, varsity rowers last year, were pushed into the J.V. boat, at least temporarily, by Karen Oberhauser, Ruth Colker, and last year's J.V. stroke Nancy Herman.
"I would say there's a little bit of tenseness right now," Hadley said. "For one thing we're using a new boat which we've practiced in only three times and that will take some getting used to. Also, with Nancy [Herman] moving up to the varsity as stroke it will take a while for us to build up confidence around her. In general, though, the boat has been moving well."
The J.V. boat's only experienced rowers are Robinson and Rasmussen. The bow six is comprised entirely of novice rowers.
Lightweights in Action
Second year lightweight coach Peter Huntsman isn't quite as fortunate as Raymond. Huntsman has only three rowers back from last year's first boat which finished second in the Eastern Sprints and lost by five feet in the National Championships. But two heavyweight rowers who slimmed down, and three strong novice oarswomen, including Barbara Pearce, who made the unlikely switch from coxswain to rower, have bolstered the 'Cliffe 125 pounders.
"Up until yesterday morning I wasn't happy with the crew at all," said Huntsman. "But they must have had an epiphany or something because everything has really seemed to come together. I'm impressed with this group of people, and think they should do very well. The J.V. boat [all novices] is far beyond my wildest dreams."
Both the lights and heavies will be facing unknown quantities at UMass and Philips Academy respectively. This is the first year that they have raced either school.