If the University of Washington has ever been an underdog, it was this year.
After losing to the Harvard heavyweight crew at the Head of the Charles, the Huskies entered the 2012 season with a rare No. 2 ranking, a spot behind the Crimson.
But at this year’s IRA National Championship, Washington was as dominant as ever, sweeping all five races.
The Crimson finished fourth, falling to the Huskies, Brown, and California.
“Washington had a really exceptional regatta,” said captain-elect and varsity bowman James O’Connor.
While Harvard failed to take the national title, the Crimson still managed bronze medals in both the varsity eight and second varsity eight.
“It’s hard to be disappointed, but it wasn’t the result we wanted,” O’Connor said. “We got beaten by some really good crews.”
While the 1V and 2V were the only boats to medal, the open four and freshman eight both made the grand finals, placing fourth and fifth, respectively, while the varsity four took eighth with a second-place finish in the petite final.
“I was proud of the team as a whole,” said senior and 2V five-seat Nick Jordan. “It was a good showing.”
A stiff tailwind for all crews meant no time to wait for a move—and a limited chance to think.
“It was go-go-go the whole way,” O’Connor said.
In the varsity eight race, Harvard appeared to have opened strongly. But with a restart in the grand final, it didn’t count, and its second start was not quite as fast.
In the second go, the Crimson still managed to stay competitive with Washington through the first 1,000 meters.
At that point, Harvard started to fall behind.
“In the third quarter, Washington put more pressure on,” O’Connor said.