The three schools enter tomorrow’s race not only as three of the top four ranked crews in the country, but they also sport a combined 18-1 record in dual racing so far this season.
The top-ranked Tigers are undefeated, with their closest win coming by a comfortable 3.3 seconds over Navy—the same crew the Crimson downed by just under a second last weekend. Princeton is coming off a 19.6 second demolition of Penn last weekend, the 11th consecutive regular season win for Old Nassau’s varsity eight.
Yale, meanwhile, has won every race since a loss to Georgetown on April 5th. While it is difficult to draw conclusions from the week-to-week results as lineups are shuffled and kinks ironed out before Sprints, there is little doubt that the three crews will be well-matched.
“Any of the three boats are probably capable of winning,” captain Jeff Overington said. “I don’t think we feel like underdogs, but we realize that Princeton is very fast and they’re undefeated as well.”
The stakes are only increased by the fact that it is the final race for the lightweights before Eastern Sprints in two weeks, where the Crimson will face the Bulldogs and Tigers once again, and therefore the last chance for Harvard to test itself under race conditions.
“The championships are the top priority,” Overington said. “We know that no matter what, Princeton and Yale are going to be fast at Sprints, and ultimately the winner in two weeks is the Ivy League champion. This is a good preview for some of the top boats at Sprints and it’s a good opportunity to test ourselves.”
The crews will also be competing for the Vogel Cup, awarded to the squad with the most overall points in the day’s five races.
Last year, Princeton took the Goldthwait Cup by winning the varsity eight, but Yale took the other four races to claim the Vogel Cup.
The Crimson finished third in four of the five races and finished second in the freshman eight.
The Harvard heavyweights, meanwhile, have an intriguing matchup of their own in Annapolis, Md., where they will face Navy and Penn for the Adams Cup.
The No. 4 Crimson is looking for its tenth consecutive Adams Cup win, but is also seeking a measure of revenge. Last year, Harvard’s first varsity took a 3.6 second win over the Midshipmen in Philadelphia, only to fall to Navy in the Petite Final at Eastern Sprints by less than a second.
“You can’t really look at the results from week to week and expect to see a certain crew,” captain Teddy Schreck said. “It’s not really what we expect to see, but it’s more about what we can do ourselves to race. Sprints is the focus, and that’s the focus all year.”
With just two weeks remaining before Sprints, however, time is running out for coaches tinkering with lineups and boats looking for a rhythm. While the heavyweights have one race remaining before traveling to Sprints—next weekend’s Smith Cup battle with Northeastern—the time to put together a full effort is now.
“We spent a lot of time drilling, working on technique,” Schreck said of this week’s preparations. “We’re in a position right now where we’re really starting to gain some momentum. This is a weekend we’ve looked to for awhile now as a chance to put it together and get into championship form.”
—Staff writer Brad Hinshelwood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.