The women's lightweight crew team overcame slight pre-race anxiety yesterday to defeat MIT's first boat pulling away. With a time of 6:35, the Black and White had a good nine-second open-water safety margin at the finish line of the first race of the season, which was altered and shortened form 1500 to 1300 meters because of gusty headwinds and rough water.
The oarswomen, after only ten less than auspicious practice starts, started strongly, and when they settled from a rate of 39 strokes per minute to a full-power 32, coxswain Rosemarie Sabatino was sitting on MIT's three-seat.
The oarswomen continued to increase their lead when MIT's bowman caught a crab and a quick reaction by freshman Sabatino put the eight in the middle of a power ten before MIT recovered. With 500 meters to go, there was open water, and with the opposition keeping a stodgy stroke rate of 29, there was no last-minute comeback.
The victory was important to many team members because for many of them, this was the most difficult race of the season. The squad had only been together since last Thursday, and MIT had been training since September.
MIT also has a reputation for its smooth-looking and hard-practiced "flipcatch" stroke--a technique that requires slow stokes and a penchant for ancient history.
The stroke, however, "made them ineffective in the water," seven-man Amy Donovan said. In the end, the team that kept up the fast stroke rate muscled its way through the turbulent course more efficiently.
Noreen Hughes, a member of the JV squad who turned in an especially fine performance, raced in both the J.V. nadvarsity, filling in for junior Lisa Erburu, who took time out to muscle her way through her MCATs.
Coach Lisa Hanson, after her first race as coach, was reasonably optimistic about the squad, calling it "very determined," but also pointing to the relatively short time the crew had been together. As obviously exhilarated Sabatino said that they were "still feeling for a rhythm."