In its first dual race of the season, the Crimson heavyweight crew won both varsity and second varsity races against Brown Saturday, ensuring the squad the Stein Cup for the fifth consecutive year.
If Brown was hoping that Harvard’s heavyweights would be shaky after the graduation of 13 members from its top two boats in 2004, the Bears were surely disappointed. Although the varsity lineup has been completely refigured since last season, the young boat rose to the challenge against the No. 10 Bears. With three sophomores in the boat for the first time, Harvard showed veteran strength and justified its No. 3 national ranking.
In the first varsity race, six new first-boat rowers began the new season in style, trouncing Brown by almost 10 seconds. The Crimson crossed the line in 5:39.7 and Brown followed at 5:49.3, over three boat lengths behind. With the victory, the Harvard first varsity boat extended its streak to 18 straight victories over 24 opponents.
Recognizing the importance of starting off the season on a positive note, first varsity six-seat Brodie Buckland attributed the Crimson’s success on the water to hard work in early spring practices.
“The guys really stepped up in this race,” Buckland said. “We have three sophomores in the boat, but everyone has been getting exponentially better in practice each day.
“Each person isn’t afraid to work hard or be criticized,” he added. “We work really well together.”
After Brown pulled ahead off of the start, Harvard settled quickly into its rhythm and took back the Brown lead seat by seat. The first boat then rowed to an easy victory, maintaining an open water advantage over the Bears for much of the race. With a consistent boat speed and good rhythm, the Crimson glided through the heart of the course and added to its lead.
“We have such an ability to move the boat consistently,” Buckland said. “I think we were only one second slower in the second thousand meters than the first one thousand, so we just had great consistency throughout the race.”
The second varsity captured victory in a similar fashion, as the boat struggled at the start. The second varsity differs wildly from the boat in 2004, when six seniors brought years of race experience to the boat. With only one senior in this year’s crew, the more inexperienced boat came off the start line shakily and trailed Brown early.
“Last year, the second varsity had six seniors, and this year we only have one,” senior Will Ulrich said. “It’s a young boat, so we’ve been working on getting everyone on the same page. Not everyone has been around as long, so we need to learn how to stroke together.”
But when the Harvard second varsity hit the second 1,000 meters, the young crew started to pull away.
“It took us a thousand meters to realize that we were good enough to beat Brown, but once we did, the race was over,” Ulrich said.
Harvard and Brown remained neck and neck for much of the race, but Harvard took control after 1,400 meters. Ultimately, the Crimson beat the Bears by two boat lengths, finishing in 6:01.2, while the Bears crossed the line in 6:07.6.
The two novice boats fell to Brown, with the first novice coming up just one second short. In the second novice race, Brown prevailed by two boat lengths.
Next week, the Crimson will travel to Princeton, N.J., next weekend to take on the Tigers and MIT in another dual race.