The Harvard and Radcliffe heavyweight crews began their seasons on apparently inauspicious notes Saturday, losing in the San Diego Classic on Mission Bay.
Washington took all the races, and arch-rival Yale finished ahead of the men's varsity team. But the Crimson and Red and White teams weren't pessimistic because, as one men's crewmate said, reflecting on 120 years of Harvard crew history. "We know we can win."
The Classic's defending-champion and last year's undefeated Harvard varsity finished fourth (5:54.1), after vying with California (5:52.0) down to the last 1000 meters of the 2000 meter course.
The Crimson had started off fast and seized the lead, but the strong Yale (5:47.9) and Washington (5:44.8) boats were never very far behind. Moreover, the Crimson lost valuable ground when Matt Arrott had trouble with his foot stretcher, causing the boat to slow down.
By the time Harvard untangled itself, only the humongous squad from Washington, which averages out at 6-ft. 5-in., 200 pounds, and the Eli were still battling for first. Washington surmounted the conditions--a 20-mile-per-hour tailwind causing whitecaps--to stroke to a record-setting time for the course.
The Crimson chased California down the stretch, but had to settle for fourth, ahead of Northeastern (5:59.3) and UCLA (5:59.5).
The women's varsity had only slightly more success, coming in third (3:37.60 behind Berkeley (3:23.2) and omnipresent Washington (3:20) on the 1000-meter course, which is 500 meters shorter than most Eastern courses. But coach Carrie Graves said she was pleased with the team's first outing and especially with the strong performance in the last 500 when they held a 36 stroke per minute tempo.
"It was disappointing to come in third, but we gained valuable experience under extremely tough competition," Graves added. The California team finished second last year in the nations, in which the Red and White took fifth.
One of the most important factors in the men's J.V. race was a blustery wind which blew them off course, and midway through forced them to jackknife the boat across the course to regain their lane.
Yet the Crimson, though taking fourth (5:58.7), did manage to eke out at least some satisfaction, beating Yale (5:59.3). The winner, of course, was Washington (5:49.5) with Orange Coast (5:57.8) and California (5:52.1) strung out behind.
THE NOTEBOOK: The coach of the California men's team was Crimson star Mike Livingston '70, who rowed on the undefeated 1967 freshman team and went to the 1968 and 1972 Olympics. After defeating coach Harry Parker's team, he said. "I take no special delight in beating someone I consider to be my mentor. I do take a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that I am in the same league."