Home-field advantage knows no element.
Rowing on friendly waters this weekend, the Harvard men's heavyweight crew team continued its Charles River-dominance by defeating Princeton and MIT in the 65th Rowing of the Compton Cup Saturday morning. The Radcliffe women's squad followed suit by outpacing California, Syracuse and Dartmouth to take the inaugural O'Leary Cup.
While the results were perfect for Harvard, the weather was not. Rain and heavy winds forced race officials to alter the race. The morning's races were moved to an upstream course further down the river, and side-by-side competition was eliminated. Instead, the boats raced single file with crews starting about a minute apart.
With a time of 5:28.9, the Crimson avenged last year's Compton Cup loss to the No. 5 Tigers at New Jersey's Lake Carnegie. Even though the "home" nature of this weekend's race may warrant an asterisk due to the change of venue, the men's team did not appear the least bit phased.
"I felt all the crews handled the format well," Harvard Coach Harry Parker said. "Moving the course gave us improved conditions."
Princeton finished second in the 1850-meter first varsity race with a time of 5:31.8. Northeastern, a late entry after its scheduled race with Brown was postponed, finished third with an unofficial time of 5:48.0. MIT's first varsity rounded out the field, completing the race in 6:06.9.
The Crimson has won the last nine Compton Cups that were contested on the Charles, and earned its 51st Compton Cup in the meet's 64-year history with this victory.
"This result tells us what we have felt from the beginning of the season," Parker said. "We have a good crew, and we're getting faster."
The Crimson's speed will be tested next week in Maryland against Navy and Penn with the Adams Cup at stake.
Radcliffe finished with a time of 6:19.3, 2.1 seconds ahead of California. No. 19 Syracuse finished third at 6:50.8, followed by Dartmouth, (6:37.5).
"We've been getting a lot faster," captain Anne Browning said. "We didn't make any personnel changes, but we made some significant changes in the positions that definitely gave us a few extra seconds."
Each of those seconds was needed against a California team that began the weekend ranked third in the country. Radcliffe's victory over the Golden Bears was a noteworthy upset, although one that the rowers did not immediately realize due to the race's staggered format.
"That's the first time I've seen a race changed by the weather this way in the four years I've been here," Browning said. "You're used to rowing with someone around you, but I thought we adjusted well."
Radcliffe's victory lends the team a bit of momentum heading into next week's showdown with Yale for the Case Cup. Yale, once considered a floating doormat, has performed impressively as of late.
The Elis upset then-No. 3 Virginia last week, while coming within two seconds of an additional win over No. 2 Princeton. Browning sees next week's match as a measuring stick for the team's progress.
"It's going to be huge," Browning said. "Yale came a few seconds closer to Princeton than we did, so beating them would be a major statement."