With sightseeing as its top priority and rowing as a secondary concern, the Harvard heavyweight varsity crew team spent a victory-less Christmas vacation at the Festival of the Nile races in Egypt.
John Higginson, the lightweight coach who accompanied this year's team, said yesterday, "The team went to see the sights, strictly as a tour, not for the challenge of racing against the Egyptian crews."
In this year's first race, held December 23 at Ismailia on the Suez Canal, Harvard finished second behind the Oxford University team.
The second race, held December 26 on the Nile River, resulted in a win for the University of Paris, with Harvard trailing behind in third place.
"In the second race we went more slowly because we made the mistake of changing our lineup," Higginson said yesterday.
The Way We Were
Higginson compared this year's Egyptian teams to "the relatively unprepared fall ranks at Harvard," adding that the Egyptians' performance was better last year. The two Egyptian teams finished last in both races.
The Harvard team, invited to the races by the Egyptian Rowing Federation, finished third in both races last year, although they were victorious each of the four years before that.
Third Rung from the Bottom
The heavyweights who made the trip were chosen on the basis of seniority, position on the ladder, and ability to pay roundtrip plane fare to London. The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism paid the fare from London to Cairo.
Neither of the heavyweight, captains participated in the Nile races because they had rowed in the testival previously.
"If we could, we would send our best people every year, but since the races aren't very important we do our best to spread the wealth," Higginson said.