When Harvard's varsity lightweight eight bet their shirts with Coast Guard before Saturday's race--a time-honored crew tradition--there wasn't much doubt about who would be disrobing whom. To put it nicely, Coast Guard Academy has to stock up on plenty of extra crew jerseys before each season.
Lacking serious competition in New London for their first race of the year, the Crimson oarsmen had only to stretch their legs and shake off the effects of a long winter's hibernation. But even after torpedoing the Coast Guard flotilla with an impressive time of 5:52, Harvard's sluggishness showed.
"The time is a little deceptive. There was a nice tail-wind, the course [usually 2000 meters] was a little short, and we got a floating start," Captain Ethan Goldings said yesterday, adding. "There was a little flailing out there. We needed a long warm-up to remember how to row because we've been in the [indoor] tanks for while."
But the oarsmen can afford to be a little forgetful, at least until they face their first serious challenges from Princeton (last year's EARC sprint champions) and Yale at New Haven May 1.
Harvard's junior varsity and freshmen lightweight boats also made off with Coast Guard Academy shirts, making a clean Crimson sweep.
Bite the Bullet
Meanwhile, on the Charles River Saturday, Radcliffe's varsity heavyweight and lightweight crews faced a much more serious problem. It came not from the Northeastern and MIT boats flanking them at the starting line, but from 25-mph winds, rough water and very cold temperatures.
"We were worried about the water freezing on our blades. There was water lapping over the sides of the boat even when we were standing still," Margaret McHugh, captain of the heavyweight eight, said yesterday.
Coxswain Sally Harris expertly navigated the heavyweights' new, high-technology Carbo-craft boat (almost light enough to attach a string and fly in Saturday's winds) to a bumpy 15-second win over Northeastern (6:23.5).
The lightweight eights followed with a one-two finish over a shorter course (4:28) But perhaps the most impressive wie was a 40-second thrashing dealt to Northeastern by Radcliffe's heavyweight junior varsity oars-women (6:56.7), led by stroke and team captain Katherine Butler.
But as McHugh says, the races Saturday were really just for survival. "We were happy with the results, but the times really didn't matter. We couldn't get any power at all, we just wanted to keep moving."
Harvard's varsity lightweights should have little trouble with MIT and Dartmouth next weekend on the Charles, but Radcliffe's oars-women will race very fast Princeton boats in New Jersey. Both crews face the toughest part of their schedules in early May.
Harvard's varsity heavyweights is were idle this weekend after a disappointing fifth-place showing in last Sunday's San Diego Classic.