SEASON RECAP: Losses Keep Heavyweights Out Of Championships

Young rowers step into big roles in tough season for Radcliffe crew

Alexandra C. Bell

The varsity eight boat finished fifth at EAWRC Sprints in one of Harvard’s best races of the year. Earlier in the season, however, the Crimson lost to Dartmouth by less than a second and later fell to Boston University.

Vacation came early for the Radcliffe heavweight crew this year, but not in a way that the rowers would have preferred.

After eight straight appearances in the NCAA Championships, including a third-place finish last year, the Black and White was left without an invitation this year.

Radcliffe was hurt by a four-regatta losing streak towards the end of the season.

The streak included surprising losses to Boston University and Dartmouth, as well as defeats against rivals Princeton and Yale.

The young squad, which consistently had only three seniors on its varsity eight boat, began the season right by beating Boston College and Northeastern to win the Rowlands Cup. It followed that win with an upset of Brown in Providence.

“We had a great race against Brown,” senior Laura Martin said. “The first two races were a really good start to the season.”

The trouble began for the Black and White when it fell to top-ranked Princeton in the Class of ’75 Cup in New Jersey on April 8. The Tigers’ first varsity boat bested Radcliffe’s by almost twelve seconds.

The problems continued the following week in the O’Leary Cup with Dartmouth, as the Big Green beat the Black and White’s first varsity by six tenths of a second on the Connnecticut River.

In New Haven Radcliffe could not snap the skid against rival Yale in its next regatta, the Chase Cup. The Bulldogs won every race, except for the novice eight.

The Black and White followed up that loss with a stunning setback on the Charles to the Terriers in the race for the Allen-DeWolfe Trophy.

Boston University won by 1.6 seconds, but Radcliffe did manage to defeat MIT easily in the same Regatta.

“That was probably one of our worst races of the season,” Martin said after the event. “We had problems from the beginning.”

With those disappointing finishes behind it, the Black and White went into Eastern Sprints and rowed as well as it had all season. Radcliffe finished fourth overall, and every boat reached the Grand Finals in its class, a feat no other crew except Brown was able to accomplish.

The second novice boat finished second and the second varsity finished third, while the first varsity finished fifth, one spot higher than its seed.

“We had a really good race at Sprints,” Martin said. “Apparently, it just wasn’t good enough in the eyes of those giving out invites.”

All year, the crew benefited from a strong freshman class.

Several freshmen rowed on varsity boats throughout the spring, including Liz Demers, a member of the first varsity in every regatta during the spring.

“It bodes well for the next years that we have freshmen starting in the varsity boats,” Martin said.

Despite losing many of its top rowers to the varsity boats, the novice boats also rowed well throughout the spring.

“Our freshman boat, even without the five freshman varsity rowers, is so fast,” Demers said. “It speaks to the depth of our freshman walk-ons and recruits coming in—and it looks to continue in the future.”

The skill of the underclassmen should help Radcliffe bounce back next season, beginning at the annual Head of the Charles. Last fall, the Black and White varsity finished No. 23 in the world-famous race.

—Staff writer Ted Kirby can be reached at