When June arrives, Harvard's classes come to an abrupt halt while students scatter to the four winds. Although the academic action ceases, at least for a little bit, Harvard athletes continue to challenge competitors in the United States and beyond.
Harvard heavyweight crew tasted victory against Yale for the 11th consecutive year, once again showing its power over the Elis. The race, deemed "perfect" by fabled coach Harry Parker (now 29-4 against Yale), was not decided until the final stroke.
In the June 10 contest on the Thames River in New London, Conn. the Crimson broke the upstream record for the third year in a row, Harvard (18:41.9) finished a full boat-length in front of the Eli (18:45.5), splintering the previous mark by more than 10 seconds.
Unlike previous years, where Harvard has carved out an early lead in the first 20 strokes and then never looked back, Yale refused to sink. Even though Harvard established its familiar quick advantage, the Elis stuck to the Crimson for nearly three miles before Harvard gained open water with a decisive move.
Refusing to die, Yale pushed hard to get back to an even keel with Harvard, but the Crimson held on and crossed the finish line first by a slim margin.
The junior varsity followed suit, easily defeating a weak Yale squad by a five-length lead. The freshman crew failed to complete the sweep, however, falling by more than 12 seconds to the Yale rookie crew.
After the day's races, the varsity heavyweights elected four-man Alexander Blake of Big Timber, Mont, captain for the 1995-96 season.
There is something about odd numbered years in the 90's for the Harvard and Radcliffe lightweight crews.
The Crimson and the Black and White lights captured their third National Championships of the decade; both crews' previous titles came in 1991 and 1993.
Harvard finished the 2,000-meter course in 5:48.7, while pre-race favorite Princeton came in less than two seconds later at 5:50.4. Cornell, Navy and Holy Cross took the next three places, respectively.
First place changed hands four times in the race, but the Crimson captured the lead for good around the 1200-meter mark.
The lightweights' Eastern Sprints title earned the crew an automatic berth at the Henley Royal Regatta in England. Although Harvard was unable to break the 24-year death grip that heavyweight crews have on the event, the Crimson did place in the top eight crews, out of a field of 48. Nottinghamshire County Rowing Association (6:15) eliminated Harvard (6:14) in the quarterfinals.
Radcliffe's 6:57.93 time smoked Villanova's 7:07.57 at the women's nationals on June 10 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Black and the White got sweet revenge over the Wildcats, who outstroked Radcliffe by more than 3.5 seconds in the San Diego Crew Classic.