With a season-opening victory over Penn and Navy under their belts that brings the Adams Cup back to Cambridge for the eighth year in a row, 2007 seems off to a smooth start for the Harvard heavyweights.
All five Crimson boats found success on the waters of the Charles on Saturday, against a field that did not appear to offer them much of a challenge.
Senior varsity bow-man Nick Baker said that the team went in with “no assumptions” but had a strong performance in the body of the race.
“During the first 500 we had a few seats to come back on Navy to catch up with them,” he said. “We had a solid stroke rating, about 35 strokes per minute during the body of the race. We just wanted to power through the middle part and work our way ahead before the final stretch.”
And work their way ahead they did, drawing level with the Navy boat at around the 600-meter mark, and gaining a four-seat lead by 800 meters.
“The wind picked up a little bit, so the start was a bit rough,” said junior and varsity stroke George Kitovitz. But by the 1200-meter mark, when they were a length up on Navy, he said, they could relax a bit and just “didn’t look back.”
This focus resulted in the Midshipmen trailing the Crimson boat in the final result by about two lengths, crossing the line eight seconds behind Harvard’s 6:07.0 time in 6:15.3. Penn finished third with 6:23.4.
Kitovitz said that the team was happy with the strong results from Saturday, particularly since it was the first event of the season.
“It’s still very early days in the season for us, and as a lineup we hadn’t raced before,” he said.
The second varsity also excelled, with a powerful start that gained it a several-seat lead by the 500 meter-mark. The gap only increased over the remainder of the race, giving Harvard a 6:18.6 victory over Penn and Navy, which tied for second place with a time of 6:23.1.
The third varsity took a substantial open-water win as well, 6:25.0 to Navy’s 6:41.0.
The freshman boat had the largest margin of victory of the morning with a 6:18.0 demolition of second-place Navy and third-place Penn, and the second freshman boat also took first place over the Midshipmen.
Freshman Joe Lin, who coxed the first freshman boat, said these figures were less instructive than with the varsity boats because Penn and Navy do not have as competitive recruiting programs as Harvard, but that the freshman results were nonetheless good.
“A lot of it is that we get along really well—sometimes that’s more important than the talent in the boat,” he said.
“There were good results across the board,” Kitovitz said. “We’ve got a few injuries right now, but there’s still more than enough really solid guys.”
Next weekend the Crimson heavyweights go on to battle for the Stein Cup against No. 3 Brown, a potentially more threatening opponent than 12th-ranked Navy or 15th-ranked Penn.
Harvard currently stands at sixth in the collegiate rankings.
“I think we’ll see a more challenging race,” Baker said. “Regardless of their ranking, I think everyone on our squad realizes that Brown is going to be one of our tougher opponents this year.”
Lin said that the freshmen were also looking forward to competing with Brown, despite calling that meet and one with Princeton the week after probably their most challenging races.
“We’re excited because the Brown freshmen also raced on the river that same morning and got a time very close to ours,” he said. “As a crew overall we’re very united in our desire to win. We intend to win everything.”
And if events continue in the vein of this beginning, this may be the year that the Harvard heavyweights once again do just that.
—Staff writer Alexandra C. Bell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.