It was the last race of the night, the weather had held up amidst threats of thunderstorms, and Harvard sat at the start line with two years of history staring it straight in the face.
Yes, everybody at Lake Quinsigamond agreed, sometime the streak has to end.
But not at the 2005 Eastern Sprints.
The Crimson varsity heavyweights set about their business as usual yesterday, dismantling a six-boat field before setting their sights on the Princeton-Harvard two-boat battle that emerged after the race’s first 500 meters. The win was the Crimson’s third consecutive at the Eastern Sprints and marked the second straight year Harvard has out-dueled the Tigers for the EARC crown.
“We knew that Princeton was going to be very, very fast,” captain five-seat Aaron Holzapfel said. “Coming off the line, we wanted to make sure that we didn’t give them any room to settle down or to take the race from us. We wanted to be even with them in the beginning of the race so that they would not get any glimpse of hope.”
In an April dual race with Princeton, Harvard was forced to overcome a six-seat deficit off the start to defeat the Tigers. But yesterday, Harvard’s best start of the season left the Crimson even with the field after the race’s first 20 strokes.
“We had our best start this season,” said sophomore varsity two-seat Andrew Boston. “The best start I’ve ever experienced. We were even with the other boats, which for us is really solid.”
After 500 meters, the Crimson held a one- to two- seat advantage over the Tigers, with Northeastern following a close third. The Huskies kept close to Harvard and Princeton throughout the first 1,000 meters, living up to their No. 3 EARC ranking.
“Northeastern put in a good race,” said senior varsity seven-seat Malcolm Howard. “All credit to them, too. It might have seemed like only a two-boat race in the end, but they were pushing early.”
By 1,000 meters, however, the heavyweight final delivered just what it had promised—Harvard versus Princeton, round two. The Tigers, out to avenge last year’s Sprints loss and the boat’s only 2005 dual defeat to the Crimson, trailed Harvard by four to five seats at the midway point.
Both crews tried to gain ground with moves after the 1,000-meter mark, though neither could substantially alter the margin. As the boats became visible to the spectators with 750 meters remaining, the Crimson maintained a six-seat advantage over the Tigers.
“They would bring it up a little bit, and we would bring it up a little bit the whole way down,” Howard said. “They put an incredible last one thousand together.”
Harvard, which had yet to see contact with a crew in the final 500 meters, could not shake the Tigers as the boats prepared for the final sprint. Princeton’s final sprint made the finish the tightest the Crimson had seen since last year’s dual victory over the Tigers.
“We knew they were going to sprint, we knew they were going to push,” Howard said. “We had to just go.”
And the 2005 version of the Harvard heavyweights went. The Crimson’s sprint put it four seats up on Princeton at the finish, with Harvard finishing in 5:29.52 and Princeton following in 5:30.66. Northeastern came in third with a time of 5:35.75.