The Bears covered the course in 6:10.57, not even a second faster than Radcliffe’s finish of 6:11.51. Brown’s time was the second-fastest women’s finish ever posted on the Seekonk River.
Over the first 1,000 meters, little, if any, space separated the two crews, but the Bears pulled ahead in the next 500 meters.
With 250 meters left, the Black and White began to cut into the half-length Brown lead, and in the end, Radcliffe crossed the finish line less than one second after the Bears.
At least there was a finish line to cross.
Conditions on the river had been so unruly that Radcliffe head coach Liz O’Leary and Brown head coach John Murphy decided to run the races upstream, in the Pawtucket Channel, where the river narrows and is better protected.
Away from the official course, the races were contested as six-and-a-half-minute pieces—that is, the boat that went the farthest distance in six and a half minutes was the winner.
In the second varsity eight race, both boats were neck and neck approaching the end of the race. With no finish line, officials were forced to judge the winner with their naked eyes, and gave the Bears the victory by a seat.
Brown also took the first and second novice eight races by two lengths, and the Brown varsity A four bested its own B boat by one length, which held off the Radcliffe A by one and a half lengths and the Radcliffe B by four and a half lengths.
At least the Black and White can hope for history to repeat itself. Last year, the Bears bested the Black and White by 2.7 seconds in the teams’ first meeting, only to fall to Radcliffe at both the Eastern Sprints and NCAA Championship.
The way does not get any easier for the Radcliffe heavies, who head to Ithaca next weekend to take on No. 16 Cornell and No. 3 Princeton.
The No. 1 Radcliffe lightweights found more success at their home opener of sorts. In the lights’ first race on the Charles, they claimed victory over Rhode Island yesterday morning.
Smashing the Rams by a full 14 seconds, the Black and White first varsity eight covered the course in 7:04.4.
Then, racing against the heavyweight fours from Rhode Island and Buffalo, the Radcliffe lights claimed another sizeable victory. This time they finished in 8:05.0, more than six seconds better than Buffalo (8:11.6) and 23 seconds ahead of Rhode Island (8:28.0).
The first novice eight Black and White crew took on the second novice heavyweight crews from the same schools, and came in second (7:50.0), a little over a second behind Buffalo (7:48.8), but more than 25 seconds ahead of Rhode Island (8:15.1)
Radcliffe has next weekend off, but will travel to Camden, N.J., the weekend of April 17-18 to compete in the Knecht Cup, hosted by Villanova.
No. 2 Princeton, No. 3 Stanford, No. 3 Wisconsin, No. 5 Georgetown and No. 7 MIT are all expected to participate in the Cup.
—Staff writer J. Patrick Coyne can be reached at email@example.com.