While Cambridge may not be experiencing the most spring-like conditions at the moment, there is still snow on the ground in New Hampshire.
“For me going up to Hanover felt like going back in time,” said second varsity coxswain Kevin He. “The river just opened up two weeks ago, so there are still ice floes floating around.”
The competition in Hanover may have seemed a journey backwards in time, but in terms of the Harvard’s racing, all the development was very much in the opposite direction, with Crimson boats dominating the field in four out of five races.
The varsity eight posted a clear win after an early lead, with a time of 6:04.5 to Dartmouth’s 6:11.5 and MIT’s 6:30.5.
“Our main goal going into this one was just to be more aggressive off the start,” said senior Mark Adomanis, who coxed the varsity boat, referring to last week’s slower build-up against Cornell. “The main thing we concentrated on during this race—[the thing] that worked and that we want to focus on going forward—is that speed off the line.”
The strategy paid off: after the first 500 meters, the boat was up by about six seats, a lead which the crew then increased and held throughout the remainder of the race.
“We were still pretty strong in the middle, but it’s easier to be strong in the middle when you give yourself a bit of leeway like we did,” said Adomanis, who is also a Crimson editorial editor.
“Towards the end of the course there was a bit of a headwind, so we were finding it harder to move forward,” he added. “You can never sit on your laurels too much in a sport, and the next step is to work on that a bit—the end of the race, the sprint, to prepare ourselves for if we have to pull it out at the end of the race.”
The second varsity recorded a victory of over 10 seconds after another strategic early burst of speed put the boat in the lead.
“One thing [head coach Charley Butt] has been telling us to do lately is to start out really fast and get ahead and freeze them, because when you’re down on a boat it’s more mentally depressing,” He said.
“We were bow to stern before the first 500, which is pretty amazing. We just got out there really fast and didn’t give them a chance to come back on us.”
Harvard’s win, with a margin of one-and-a-half-lengths of open water, clocked in at 6:13.0. The Big Green finished with a time of 6:23.4.
In the varsity fours, the Crimson placed first and third in 7:05.3 and 7:23.4, respectively. The second-place four was Dartmouth’s, crossing the line at 7:13.1.
The first freshman boat was the only one not to take first in its race, with the Big Green oarsmen just inching past them to gain a 1.8-second-faster finish. Harvard finished in 6:17.5, and MIT placed third.
The second freshman boat beat Dartmouth by a comfortable 10-second margin to complete the course in 6:16.1.
Next week the lightweights face Navy at home for the Haines Cup.
“Maybe our worst race last year was against them,” Adomanis said. “So I think we’d like to do our best to erase that from our minds.”
“Navy’s always hard, but we’ll have a good advantage because we’ll be on our home turf,” He added. “We’re strong and work well together and in the end it all comes down to determination.”
Adomanis also expressed optimism about the rest of the season, explaining that as well as aiming to improve from year to year, this year the team has emphasized improvement over the course of each week.
He pointed out the results of this focus in the improvement in Saturday’s performance from last week’s.
“So far it’s been pretty dramatic what we’ve been able to do,” Adomanis said. “While we’re a pretty good crew now, we could be an outstanding one if we can hold ourselves to that.”
If they do, it should be back to a future of yet more successes for the Crimson lightweights before the summer is out.
—Staff writer Alexandra C. Bell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.