The No. 5 Radcliffe heavyweight crew wrapped up the dual meet portion of its schedule by rolling up No. 16 Boston University and MIT and eating them as a tasty breakfast burrito on Saturday morning on the Charles River, taking the Allen-DeWolfe Trophy.
Meanwhile, the No. 3 lightweights were bested by No. 1 Princeton, who claimed the Class of 1999 Cup.
In the first varsity eight event, the Black and White took the lead from the beginning and moved to a half-length advantage by the 500 meter mark.
Pushing its advantage by four seats across each following 500-meter mark, Radcliffe put open water between it and the Terriers slightly past the Mass. Ave. Bridge.
The Black and White clocked in at 6:28.4, nearly three boat-lengths ahead of BU (6:39.5) and slightly less than 50 seconds ahead of the Engineers (7:17.2).
With the pair of wins, Radcliffe settled its dual record at 9-2 for the year.
Black and White coach Liz O’Leary elected to switch up seats a bit in her boats during the week of practice, and as a result, the 1V had five rowers in new positions.
“I think the change in order helped our boat find a very solid rhythm,” co-captain Heather Schofield, who moved from the two-seat to the one-seat, said. “The first day or two practicing in the new lineup it was a little shaky as we all adjusted to the change, but after we had a chance to get comfortable in the new lineup the change helped us pick up some speed for racing.”
The second varsity vessel (6:48.5) had even greater success, powering to open water early in the proceedings and rolling to a 12-second victory over the Terriers (7:00.3).
“The new lineup helped us to find a level of aggressiveness that we had not yet sufficiently tapped into this season,” sophomore seven-seat Katie Golden, formerly the three-seat, said. “It always helps to follow a new back and become more aware of how you need to row to make the boat go fast.”
With Northeastern entering the mix, the varsity four “A” found itself in a dogfight.
The Black and White got an early lead and was able to maintain its margin through the course, crossing the line in 7:40.1, less than a tick ahead of the charging Huskies (7:41.0) and one and a half seconds before BU (7:41.6).
“We do think that we are capable of more speed and are focusing over the next two weeks on bringing the best strokes we are capable of to every race,” sophomore four-seat Anne Conlin said. “We are trying to prepare so that, come Sprints, we are ready to race with not one or two but six fast boats across the course.”
The varsity four “B” boat (7:55.1) also won an open-water victory over the Terriers (8:01.8).
The lone Radcliffe loss of the day came in the novice eight race, where the Black and White (7:08.3) once held a one-length lead before succumbing to a vicious final 500 from BU (7:06.6) and falling by about two seats.
The novice four (8:11.8) came from three seats down to pass the Terriers (8:17.4) with open water playing the role of interloper at the finish line.
All focus now shifts to the Eastern Sprints, which will take place May 15 in Camden, N.J.
The next couple weeks will be an intense time for the crew to prepare for the second-biggest regatta of the year.
“As a boat we have been working on strong finishes and creating a rhythm that creates good ratio, and I think that will continue to be a focus for at least part of the coming two weeks leading into sprints,” Schofield said.
Powerful from start to finish, top-ranked Princeton (6:53.2) bested the first varsity octet (7:00.7) by just under seven seconds.
“I was pleased with how the eight raced,” junior stroke Sarah Bates said. “I think we had an aggressive race, but it just wasn’t enough to match Princeton’s speed.”
Radcliffe was unable to retain control of the Class of 1999 Cup, which it had snatched from the Tigers last year when it broke Princeton’s 10-race winning streak against the Black and White.
“They are a really fast team and they row very well technically,” Bates said. “As for our rivalry, as [head coach] Cec [Tucker] said after our race when she was presenting Princeton with the cup, we have a strong rivalry on the water but off the water we try to come together and work towards building a faster and bigger league for lightweight women’s rowing. It’s really great to have teams like Princeton who are a little bit faster than us and give us something to work towards.”
The Radcliffe varsity four, which featured four rowers (Bates, senior Kristin Hicks, senior Ame Bothwell, and sophomore Lesley Burkett) and the coxswain (sophomore Kate Walro) of the eight fared better, finishing in 7:33.2 en route to a rout of both the Princeton “A” boat (7:46.4) and “B” boat (7:59.3).
The Tigers (7:04.6) took the novice eight event ahead of the Black and White “A” (7:30.6) and “B” (7:57.8).
The lights also have the Sprints on their horizon, though they will square off against MIT on the Charles next Saturday.
“In terms of improving our speed, over the next couple weeks before Sprints, we’ll be working to row cleaner and more effectively as a boat and continuing to work on our strength in the weight room,” Bates said.
—Staff writer J. Patrick Coyne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.