The Radcliffe varsity lighweights kicked off their 1977 season on the Charles with stunning one-second victory over two-time defending national champion Boston University Saturday.
"I think it was the fastest race I've ever been in," captain Jane Roy said Saturday. "And B.U. is our toughest opponent so far."
Stroke Barbara Norris, who changed to the lightweight program this year after stroking the varsity heavies for two years, took Radcliffe off the line at a high 41 strokes per minute, gradually settled to a 35 for the body of the race, and upped it to a 36 at the finish of the 1500-meter contest.
The lights grabbed a quick two-seat lead, and lengthened it out into a six-seat margin by the 500 meter mark.
They kept that lead until the finish when B.U. cut the margin back to four seats. Radcliffe's winning time was 5:46.4.
"It was a gutsy effort, but not quite as controlled as I would have liked it. I think it would have been rushed if I'd tried to take it down," Norris said Saturday.
"There wasn't quite as much run per stroke as there should have been for the power they put it. We'll smoother at the Sprints, but I'm sure B.U. will be stronger too," coach Peter Huntsman said.
The Radcliffe second, third, and fourth lightweight boats were also in the race, as was Cornell, Wellesley, and two MIT heavyweight crews.
The 'Cliffe's J.V. finished third, solidly defeating the Cornell and Wellesley lightweight varsities. Cornell placed fourth, the 'Cliffe third and fourth boats placed fifth and sixth respectively, MIT seventh, Wellesley eight, and a second MIT shell brought up the rear.
"The J.V. was right with B.U. for 1000 meters, and they really rowed well," Huntsman said. "But I was most pleased with the third and fourth boats. Last week they lost to the same MIT crews by about 20 seconds, and they reversed that margin in one week."
Saturday's varsity contest was the first race for novices Rian Smith and Nancy Karabrok. "The experience against a crew like B.U. will certainly make a difference," said Roy.
The B.U. eight contained four returning members of last year's national championship crew. However, one other returning oarswoman missed the race due to illness. "They'll be stronger at the Sprints," Huntsman said, "but we'll be smoother."