Braving blustery and choppy conditions on the Charles River on Saturday morning, the No. 12 Radcliffe heavyweight crew out-rowed Boston-area rivals to take first place at the sixth annual Beanpot in the first race of the spring season.
Facing Boston College, Boston University, MIT, and Northeastern, all five Crimson heavyweight crews fared well against their local rivals, with four notching victories to help Harvard begin the spring regular season on the right note.
“I thought we had a really strong performance,” Harvard coach Liz O’Leary said. “When you start off the season with four of your five boats [winning] in the regatta, it’s terrific.”
With the start of its race, the Radcliffe first varsity eight launched off the starting line and powered down the course despite brisk tailwinds that churned the water on the river and provided challenging conditions for all crews sprinting on the Charles.
But the Black and White handled both the elements and the local rivals as the Radcliffe 1V finished the course with a winning time of 6:25.9—the Black and White’s fastest Beanpot finish in three years.
BU completed the course 6.2 seconds behind with a time of 6:32.1. In the battle for third place, Northeastern was able to edge out MIT. The Huskies finished 0.6 seconds ahead of the Engineers with a time of 6:38.3.
BC finished last, 15.2 seconds behind MIT with a time of 6:54.1.
O’Leary cited this past winter’s warmer temperatures as an influence in the team’s high level of performance this early in the season.
“The mild winter that we had gave us the opportunity to get in a lot of practice on the river, and it showed in our races,” O’Leary said. “Everyone performed as well as I could have expected at this time of the year. Hopefully we can continue to make good progress, but I’m proud of the performance that we had overall, especially at this point of the season.”
With a first-place finish in the 1V, combined with victories in the 2V, varsity four A, and the varsity four B, Radcliffe laid claim to its fifth Beanpot title in six years and also retained ownership of its head-to-head trophies—the Allen-DeWolfe Trophy and Rowlands Cup—for its victories against BU and Northeastern, respectively.
During the second varsity eight race, the Radcliffe 2V established an imposing lead over the field early on and never looked back, cruising to a comfortable victory. The Black and White 2V went on to post a winning time of 6:34.2, nearly 20 seconds ahead of its competitors. Northeastern, BU, and BC finished in quick succession, placing second, third, and fourth with times of 6:54.0, 6:57.5, and 6:58.0, respectively. The MIT 2V finished last with a time of 7.08.2.
“Overall, we had a really exciting day. It was fun being back in race mode, and I’m proud of the whole team,” junior rower Marisa D’Orsogna said. “Doing well here on our home course in our first race has set us up to keep working hard for the rest of our season as well.”
The Radcliffe varsity four A and varsity four B crews also stormed away to wide-margin victories, with the varsity four A winning by more than 10 seconds in 7:28.8 while the varsity four B finished 12 seconds faster than its rivals with a time of 7:44.7.
In the final race of the day, the third varsity eight race, the Black and White 3V started off strong but was unable to keep up with the rapid strokes of BC and Northeastern, which finished in first and second, respectively. In the race, the Radcliffe 3V finished last, just under 14 seconds behind in the first-place Eagles.
After strong performances during the fall season and this year’s season-opening Beanpot Regatta, the Black and White just might have found the momentum builder it needs as it looks ahead to its highly touted head-to-head matchup against national defending champions Brown, set to take place next weekend in Providence, R.I.
“[Brown-Harvard] will be an exciting race to watch,” O’Leary said. “It will live right up to what it has always been. I have tremendous respect for Brown, and they are the national champions right now, so they will be a formidable opponent for us next weekend.”
—Staff writer Oluwatoni A. Campbell can be reached at email@example.com.