Winning was not the only thing for the Harvard lights this weekend at Hanover, N.H. Perfection was their goal. That is why there were a lot of dissatisfied oarsmen, especially the varsity eight, despite returning with the Biglin Bowl for the 15th straight year after a clean sweep of Dartmouth and MIT.
Bad starts seemed universal for Crimson boats on Saturday, and the crews came from behind with varying degrees of success. The varsity struggled most of the way after falling behind at the start to Dartmouth. Despite five power pieces called by coxswain Peter Cordeiro, Harvard was unable to move on Dartmouth until 1000 meters and then only built a lead of a bit more than a length.
The J.V. had an easier time, rowing past both MIT and Dartmouth at about 500 meters and opening up its lead the rest of the way. The margin at the finish was two lengths over Dartmouth, which slipped past MIT for second.
The first and second freshmen boats won impressively, with 10-and 12-second margins of victory, respectively.
The 3V and 4V boats, racing Worcester Polytechnic Institute at Worcester, both lost their races after bad starts.
But from the varsity oarsmen, there was a lot of grumbling heard. "People in that boat are very self-critical," stroke Jeff Brown said yesterday. He added that most of the varsity rowers "have gotten through not being stars," so they do not expect things to come easy.
"For most boats, when they win by open water, there is wild celebration. There is none of the jubilation if we don't feel we've rowed well," Brown said. In fact, "the boat coming back sounded like an elevator coming up out of a coal mine"--just a log of coughing and silence.
"We're not happy about the way we raced," two seat Mike Cominsky said. Much of the power which had been so evident over the final 1000 meters at Penn the week before, was missing on Saturday. And a large part of the reason for this was that the strokes were not as long as the varsity wanted.
So, when the varsity found itself down by four seats, it had a hard time catching Dartmouth. "We took our ten (around 500 meters) and they were still there. We got scared," Cominsky said.
"What really moves that boat is when people go for blood." Brown said, adding that it lengthens the stroke by three fee.
There did not appear to be any such problems for the J.V. except for its poor start, as it came back from the scare in Philadelphia to win big, like J.V. lights are supposed to Captain and J.V. six seat Jeff Cooley felt that the crew's smooth settle was the "crucial thing."
But he too was not completely pleased. He said that the starts indicate that "everyone is still making sure they're still rowing personally well. There is no boat sense yet."
Perfection may not be a bad idea for the lights, though after Yale defeated Penn by 16 seconds on Saturday. The Crimson meets Yale in two weekends.