It was the last race on Sunday at Darmouth. 3 Harvard boats. 3 Brown boats. Winner takes the 55th Fowle Trophy and New England bragging rights.
And led by freshman sensation Clay Johnson, the Crimson co-eds, with a 1-2-5 finish, did just that. But the Bears cried, well, Fowle.
Brown’s unit demanded a re-sail, charging that faulty Dartmouth-owned equipment had broken and caused the loss. After a review, officials agreed and ordered another race.
But the second finish was not any different: Harvard won, faulty equipment or not. Johnson again finished first, and, helped by an array of terrific moves by co-captain Cardwell Potts to hold on for fourth, the co-eds won for real.
The victory was all the more remarkable considering the fact that Harvard’s sailors entered the antepenultimate race needing to sweep all three.
“It was really intense going into the final three races,” Johnson said. “But we did what we had to do.”
Harvard finished a light-winded Saturday—the first day of competition between 12 teams—in third place, trailing Brown and Dartmouth. Conditions were breezier on Sunday, when the Crimson had to rotate crews and compensate for the heavy wind.
“I think the regatta went very well, seeing that we ended up winning the championship and qualifying for nationals,” said Potts. “I felt as though we worked fairly well together as a team and performed well in the end when there was more pressure and the championship was to be determined.There seemed to be a fairly equal level at the top with no one team clearly dominant. This was important because it impressed upon us the need to continue to improve and strive towards perfection to attempt to win the national championship again.”
Co-captain and crew Laura Schubert pointed to the team’s youth.
“We have a really young team, so it’s really great to see how much everyone’s improved,” Schubert said.
Potts agreed, adding, “We are a young team as far as team racing is concerned and have room for improvement, and we will continue to practice and get better.”
Potts, like Schubert, was racing in his final New England Team Racing Championship.
At the forefront of the team’s youth movement is Johnson, whose performance this year comes after a lifetime of single-handed racing.
“I think I have come quite a ways,” Johnson said. “I sailed every day with some of the best sailors in the country. It’s so great to have guys like Cardwell Potts and Vincent Porter around the team.”
“This team is one of the best teams at Harvard, and it’s great to be a part of it,” he added.