The Harvard men’s heavyweight and lightweight crews traveled to Worcester, Mass. this past weekend to compete at the EARC Eastern Sprints. Competition took place on Sunday at the six-lane Lake Quinsigamond course with heats in the morning followed by finals in the afternoon. The Crimson heavies walked away team champions having won the varsity and freshman eight events. Meanwhile, the Harvard lightweights saw the end to a thus-far perfect season for the varsity and first freshman boats, leaving them anxious for another racing opportunity at IRAs.
The Crimson heavyweight varsity entered the regatta seeded second in the league to the Brown Bears and ranked fourth nationally. The grand final Sunday afternoon was a three-boat race between Harvard, Brown, and the Princeton boat that did not finish its dual race against the Crimson earlier this season after a mid-race collision.
“We were focused on Brown, but with Princeton, although we felt like the race had been under control, we never knew what had been going to happen in that second 1,000,” said junior two seat Anthony Locke. “And they’re a really good program, so it wasn’t too surprising that they got right back up there and put up a strong race.”
Harvard, racing in lane three, led off of the start and maintained an advantage of only a couple of seats through the 1,000-meter mark. The crew extended their lead in the third 500 meters, taking nearly a full length off of a surge move. The Crimson held off the Bears and Tigers through the final 500 meters, including the sprint, to win by a two-and-a-half second margin in a time of 5:33.0 to Princeton’s 5:35.5 and Brown’s 5:36.9.
“We had a pretty good start that put us in a good position on Brown and Princeton and the other crews,” sophomore stroke Pat Lapage said. “We worked it in the third 500 quite a bit and started to take control of the race and then in the last 500 pulled it away a little bit again. It was a good race.”
The gold-medal varsity eight consisted of senior coxswain Kelly Evans and oarsmen Lapage, sophomores Matt Edstein and Nick Jordan, junior David Wakulich, sophomores Sam O'Connor and Michael DiSanto, Locke, and captain Blake Pucsek.
All Harvard boats won their morning heats on Sunday and went on to compete in the grand finals that afternoon. Aside from the varsity eight, the freshman four, fourth varsity eight and first freshman eight took home gold medals this weekend.
In the first freshman eight event, the Crimson was in a three-way battle with Princeton and Cornell. The Tigers and Harvard pulled away from the Big Red moving into the final 500 meters of the race. Princeton pushed its bow ball out to a slight advantage with only two or three hundred meters until the finish line. The Crimson countered with a strong and precise sprint that walked it up a few seats in the final strokes to win by half a second in a time of 5:37.2 to Princeton’s 5:37.7.
The Harvard second varsity finished just out of the medals, placing fourth in the grand final. The third varsity eight was able to secure bronze, finishing less than a second behind Brown and about three seconds behind Wisconsin.
The Crimson claimed its 30th Rowe Cup and its sixth team championship in the past nine years. The varsity eight and first freshman eight also earned trips to the Henley Royal Regatta in England with their victories, but first, the team has the Harvard-Yale Regatta and IRAs to look forward to.
For the Harvard lightweights, also competing at Lake Quinsigamond this past Saturday, the results—though impressive—were disappointing after a spectacular dual racing season that saw both the varsity and first freshman squads go undefeated.
In the varsity event, the Crimson eight was in a three-boat race with Yale and Princeton. The event was a repeat of the Harvard-Yale-Princeton Regatta from only two weekends ago, but this time, Harvard fell short to the Tigers.
Just as in the previous race, the Tigers jumped out to an early advantage. This time though, they took three or four more seats on the Crimson, gaining almost a full-length advantage. The lead proved too much for the Harvard oarsmen to overcome. The Crimson finished 2.3 seconds behind Princeton in a time of 5:43.4.
“Princeton went off the line very quickly and we were able to hold them,” said captain and varsity five seat Martin Eiermann. “But they just managed to get that extra two or three seats going to the 1,000-meter mark, which is just enough that the crew that is lagging behind has a harder time coming back because you’re losing them in your peripheral vision.”
Harvard’s second varsity eight finished just out of the top three in its event, 1.8 seconds behind third-place Cornell. The Crimson third varsity and second freshman eight took second in their events, as did the first freshman eight in what was a battle to the finish line.
Harvard’s first freshman eight, which went undefeated in the dual racing season, fell to the third-seeded Big Red by only a bow-ball. The two eights paced each other down the course, with the rest of the field trailing them in a tight pack of their own. In the end, Cornell edged out Harvard by less than 0.4 seconds. The Big Red finished in 5:48.4 to the Crimson’s 5:48.7.
Overall, Harvard placed second to Princeton in the team competition by a mere five points. Without a doubt, the rivalry between the two Ivy League powerhouses will continue at IRAs in Camden, N.J. in two weeks.
—Staff writer Jessica L. Flakne can be reached at email@example.com.