WORCESTER--After the Eastern prints yesterday a young man stood on the shore peddling "sprints shirts" with which buyers could "remember the day that Harvard lost." Despite the fact that Harvard garnered the Rowe Cup which goes to the strongest heavyweight squad overall, and captured the second varsity race, the peddler was right--the 1978 sprints will be remembered as the day that the Crimson lost. Harvard finished second in the heavyweight varsity race for the first time since 1973, falling to an upstart Yale boat half-filled with sophomores.
An ominous morning trial heat in which the Crimson varsity eight fell by two-tenths of a second to a Brown boat they had downed by two lengths earlier in the season foreshadowed Harvard's afternoon defeat.
The grand final loss itself went like this: Syracuse broke out in front at the start before Yale powered to the front and then opened up open water on the rest of the field by the end of 1000 meters.
At that point in the race Harvard left the trailing pack but that was not close enough. A strong sprint still left the Crimson three-quarters of a length behind at the line. Yale had won by 2.9 seconds.
Two of Harvard's oarsmen, 6-ft., 6-in., 212-lb. six-man George Aitken and captain Tom Howes had been unable to practice during the last week, but Crimson coach Harry Parker refused to offer that information as an excuse for the Harvard defeat. He said after the race that the injuries "didn't make any significant difference--they rowed well despite them."
Parker added, "I feel very pleased with the way our guys rowed," but the apparent content of that comment and Parker's unperturbed manner were belied by another comment--"We're never satisfied to lose." Yale may come to regret their sprints victory when Harvard meets them on the Thames in Connecticut for the annual four-mile head-to-head battle in June.
Once You Get Started...
Despite Yale's varsity victory Harvard did manage to corral the Rowe cup for the sixth time in seven years. The Crimson second varsity played a major role in bringing the Rowe home to Cambridge after a year-long sojourn to Penn by reversing the order of the varsity heavyweight race and beating Yale. Starting at a cadence of 42, the Crimson J.V.s dropped behind Penn by half a length before driving past the Quakers at 500. In a tremendous display of power at 1000 Harvard stretched a half-boat lead into one-and-a-quarter lengths. Cruising in from there, the second varsity finished 4.8 seconds ahead of the men in blue.
The Harvard freshmen had a disappointing weekend. Entering the regatta as heavy favorites, the first freshman boat won their heat by a hefty six seconds but lost by 1.9 seconds in the finals to a strong Northeastern boat. They appeared to have suffered from the loss of one of their strongest rowers on Tuesday due to disciplinary probation. Parker said the freshmen had rowed extremely well while admitting it had "been a pretty hard week for them."