The list of Harvard sports offering guaranteed, bet-the-rent-money superiority year after winning year begins and ends with the heavyweight crew.
The 121st season will open today with the first of the formalities that inevitably precede the real season, the two matchups with Yale, in the Eastern Sprints, May 11, and in the Sexton Cup four-mile marathon, June 7.
The oarsmen travel to Brown today for the 16th battle for the Stein Cup, named for that sorry soul Walter J. Stein, Brown class of '17, who donated the cup only to see it won by the Crimson 15 years in a row. In fact, Brown has never won.
But this year's model of the Harvard heavies bears some startling dissimilarities from crews of years past. Youth, for example. Only one senior, captain Charlie Altekruse, will appear in the varsity boat, highly unusual in the competitive world of Harvard crew where experience counts.
Five juniors and three sophomores (including cox Ted Tsomides) will join Altekruse in the shell. But though it's a young team, it doesn't lack experience. As far back as 1976, stroke Matt Arrott, seven-man John MacEachern and Altekruse (number six this year) teamed with a fourth to tale a silver medal in the World Junior Championships held in Austria.
George Hatch, back to the bow after a year off, Jay Smith at five, as well as MacEachern and Altekruse, both 1980 Olympians, are four men with varsity experience. That should count when the encounters with the Elis begin next month.
Yale. Yale. Yale. For only the second time since 1964, not one person in the Harvard boat has ever beaten Yale in a Sprints race. Last year, a boat of Eli mammoths mashed the Crimson on Lake Quinsigamond. Revenge for the past two years is priority one at Newell Boat House.
It looks like a good bet. This is a bigger boat than last year, and Yale has lost several blue chippers. Harvard has gained sophomores Charles Storey, bowman of the first freshman boat last year, and J.B. Kelly, scion of one of America's finest rowing families (his father won the Head of the Charles senior singles this year; his great-grandfather won the single sculls medal in the 1924 Olympics, etc.).
And there remains The Presence: coach/ legend Harry Parker. In his 17 years at the Harvard helm, Parker has gone 68-6, with 11 Sprints titles. Parker-coached teams do not lose. His charges in 1980 dare not--and probably will not--violate this tradition.