Radcliffe crew notched seven wins in Saturday’s races, but tough competition made every race a close, hard-fought battle.
Radcliffe heavyweight crew rose to the Charles River Challenge on Saturday with seven total wins. Three boats finished the day of races undefeated and the varsity eight and novice eight claimed their first wins of the season.
The second varsity boat, with a flair for the dramatic, notched another come-from-behind win in the morning and pulled out a slim win in the afternoon.
“The racing this weekend was very successful, we were very excited for our victories across the board,” co-captain Laura Larsen-Strecker said.
The Challenge featured two sets of races, morning and afternoon, and hosted six programs including the Black and White.
Dartmouth and Syracuse, league rivals, turned up as did more distant opponents Notre Dame and Texas. Cross-regional races like these are crucial in determining bids to the NCAA tournament in late May.
In the first race of the day, Radcliffe bested Dartmouth by almost six seconds. Syracuse followed about four seconds back of the Big Green and Texas crossed another five seconds later. The Black and White seized a boat-length lead by the 500-meter mark and reclaimed the O’Leary Cup with a 6:22 finish for the sixth time in the nine years.
“The best race of the weekend was the varsity eight against Notre Dame. It’s a big deal in the NCAA world and they handled it wonderfully,” assistant coach Cory Bosworth said. “Dartmouth is within our league and somebody who has made it to the NCAAs and always somebody we’re going to be excited to race.”
The varsity eight repeated the performance in the afternoon, reaching the line five seconds ahead of the Big Green and nearly seven seconds ahead of Notre Dame.
The morning’s conditions were fair with sunny skies and a light wind that built as the day progressed making for choppier water—and tougher conditions— for the midday races.
“The afternoon was a little rough. Clear skies and warm weather is nice, but the actual racing conditions were a bit tough.” Larsen-Strecker said. “It was a challenge for all the crews, but since it was our race course we felt we had the advantage. We’ve been rowing in a lot of difficult water over the past few weeks.”
Making something of a turnaround from last week’s uncharacteristic performance, the novice eight won both of its races, scorching Texas, Dartmouth, Notre Dame and Syracuse in turn. In the morning, the boat blazed by Texas with a 9.22 second margin, clocking in at 6:39.5. Dartmouth finished at 7:02.6 and Syracuse pulled in at 7:11.5. In the afternoon, the Big Green was one upped again by about eight seconds and Notre Dame pulled across a full ten seconds after Dartmouth.
“They did have a great turn around [and] learned a lot from last week’s loss,” Bosworth said. “They came to practice and got all the work done that they needed to get done, and so they won not just once but twice.”
In theatrical form, the second varsity impressed with another come from behind victory, taking the lead in the third 500 meters just edging out the Big Green for a 1.4 second win.
In the afternoon, an early lead faded as a late move by Notre Dame made the race tense. Radcliffe held off the other boats for a .94 second advantage over the Fighting Irish.
“They raced strong throughout,” Bosworth said. “They were down at the 1500 mark but came back through the competition in a very dramatic race. [Notre Dame] did a good job in the wind and the weather but we squeaked out the win, next time we’ll be looking for bigger margins.”
“Notre Dame took a significant move in the end of the race and we unfortunately didn’t respond,” Larsen-Strecker added. “The margin closed a lot. In the end we were not as aware of what was going on as we needed to be. Notre dame certainly had a ferocious sprint.”
Dartmouth claimed victory in the morning third varsity four and Notre Dame took both third varsity fours, A and B, in the afternoon. Texas won the second novice four in the morning. The Black and White cruised to wins in all the rest.
Next weekend, the team will travel to compete against Yale in the Case Cup.
—Staff writer Elizabeth A. Joyce can be reached at email@example.com.