The Harvard heavyweight crew team could be excused for any poor performances last weekend in California because of jetlag.
However, the Crimson showed no signs of weariness, easily capturing the Redwood Shores-Stanford Rowing Classic Championship--a single-elimination rowing tournament billed as the "Best of the East versus the Best of the West"--in Redwood Shores, Ca.
Harvard (4-0) finished the final race in 5:51.04, finishing almost 12 seconds in front of the Wisconsin Badgers. Earlier in the tournament, the oarsmen eliminated Washington and UCLA. Brown, Penn, Stanford and California-Berkeley filled out the eight-team field in the early-season tourney.
"It's hard not to feel good about such a victory," coxswain Jim Crick said, "and it's important to test ourselves against such great competition early in the year."
The Crimson accepted a gift in the first round when the Huskies of Washington were forced out of the match with a broken oarlock.
"I was disappointed to miss that race against Washington," stroke John Amory said, "since I'm a Seattle native. It also cast a shadow over the tournament for me because we didn't have to deal with the same level of fatigue as the other crews."
Utilizing the advantage of the free first round, Harvard cruised to an eight-second victory over UCLA in the semifinals, finishing the race in 5:51.4.
The Crimson then polished off Wisconsin, pulling ahead about 500 meters into the race and gradually extending its lead without any real challenge.
"Wisconsin rowed at a much lower pace than I'd expect," Amory said, "and they should have a lot of room to get faster this season. Since they're from Wisconsin, they don't get much practice time early in the spring."
"It was a fun tournament because of the unusual [single-elimination] format," Amory added, "which you'll only find at the Henley Regatta."
Based on this weekend's results, the Crimson should expect to deal again with jetlag this summer at those Henley races.
"We were cooking."
That's how Harvard lightweight stroke Andrew Hoyt described his squad's performance this weekend against Dartmouth and MIT in Hanover, N.H.
The undefeated Crimson pulled out to a boat-length lead over Dartmouth after 750 meters and steadily pulled away to beat the Big Green by 12 seconds and the Engineers by 13 seconds.
"This was an important race for us because it proved that we could establish a strong base cadence and beat up on another crew without having to rely on anything special," Hoyt said.
Harvard finished the Connecticut River course in the fast time of 5:44, cooking up a pair of "well done" Dartmouth and MIT crews in the process.
"We didn't want to sit on a lead," senior Mike Horvath said, "and we were able to pull a strong race without relying on an opponent's challenge to push us."
"We didn't give in an inch," senior Sam Shuffler noted, "although I feel we had a shaky start. Our real competition is Princeton and Yale and I feel we have to come off the line faster against them."
THE NOTEBOOK: The heavyweights will host MIT and undefeated Princeton on Saturday morning while the lightweight crews will also host Navy.