Yesterday afternoon members of the Harvard heavyweight crew seemed almost surprised that anyone had taken the trouble to lift the polished Compton Cub from its resting place in 60 Boylston St.
Their astonishment looked like evidence of an unspoken confidence that after they face Princeton and MIT on the Charles this afternoon at 12:15 p.m., the trophy will be sent back exactly where it came from--and will remain on Harvard property for the 16th consecutive year.
If the heavyweights did indeed feel as confident of victory as they appeared, they avoided admitting it with a politician's expertise. Coach Harry Parker cautioned that although his crew had rowed well against Brown last weekend, particularly during their spring after a crab, the 2000-meter race will be close because Princeton's varsity is "very fast."
The Tigers' proved their power against Penn last Saturday in New Jersey. After falling behind by almost a length as Penn broke from the start at an explosive cadence of 45 strokes per minute, Princeton climbed back into the race with a very strong sprint at the end. They ended only 2.5 seconds behind an eight that had skimmed past the line just over a second ahead of Harvard in the San Diego Crew Classic.
MIT, or the "technicians" as they are known in the boathouse, did not seem to concern Parker. He did not even mention them when discussing the race.
The Harvard varsity lightweights will battle with Navy for the Haines Cup on the Charles tomorrow morning, 30 minutes before the varsity heavies' race.
During the past week, lightweight coach John Higginson added two halves to make one--he took half of last week's first boat, put it with half of last week's second boat, and came up with a new varsity.
Last year's all-Ivy stroke, Kevin Cunningham, is back in his old spot after a week leading the second boat. Jim Russell and Karl Forsgaard have moved up from the second boat to take the seven and six seats, and skipper John Pickering will be at five. Last week's varsity stroke Jeff Cooley rows at four, Bill Chapman at three, Don Harting at two and Pasha Lakdhir, up from the J.V., at bow.
Higginson emphasized yesterday both the importance and the uncertain outcome of the race. "We're optimistic. Penn and Princeton have both beaten Navy, and if we're going to be anywhere this year we have to at least beat them too," he said.
Higginson added that "on paper Navy is faster than us, but we probably gained enough speed to go in with a 50-50 chance of winning." He seemed satisfied that this week's lineup is the best he has assembled. "They look quite good," he said.
But don't bother memorizing the lights' lineup. So far this year efforts in that direction have been a waste of time.