The Harvard men’s crew teams experienced radically different conditions across the Northeast in their Ivy openers, but both the lightweights and heavyweights managed to find victory in races this weekend.
The heavyweight team stayed at home, braving gusts on the Charles River to take down Cornell in all varsity races while the lightweight team took home its own share of wins on trips to Philadelphia and Princeton to take on Cornell, Penn, and Georgetown.
In its first race of the season, the Crimson heavyweight team saw its greatest competition coming from the Charles itself.
“[There were] very challenging conditions today. The wind was kind of the enemy of rowing, and when it gusts like it did today, it can make conditions very difficult,” said captain James O’Connor, who rowed in the second seat of the first varsity boat. “There were a lot of waves, and a lot of chop, and that, combined with very cold weather, can make rowing pretty difficult out in the basin where we do all of our 2k racing.”
Despite the conditions, Harvard was still able to dominate on its home course as the 1V boat blasted through the two-kilometer race in 6:16.3, outpacing the Big Red by over 20 seconds.
“We managed to get it together pretty well and when they finally started our race, we pretty much just scorched over the line and jumped up almost a length in our first 10, 20 strokes, and then never really looked back from there,” O’Connor said. “We just kept on moving, which is good. We managed to extend our lead throughout our race. This was our first race of the season, so it’s always a bit of a shock to the system.”
The second varsity eight and third varsity also found victory in their races, besting Cornell by 12 and two seconds, respectively. The freshman eight boat notched Harvard’s only blemish on the day, as the Big Red eked out a three-second victory over the Crimson’s crew, something O’Connor attributes to the rookies’ lack of experience.
“The guys certainly have the fitness and ability and the power to go that distance, but I think [the results] did show who had done this before,” O’Connor said. “It shows on the day-to-day as we were able to rise to the occasion a little bit better than the freshmen. They weren’t quite ready to come together as a crew for this weekend, so they’ve got some improvements to make, but [they’re] a lot of talented individuals.”
The lightweight crew team also opened up Ivy competition on Saturday, taking on both Penn and Cornell on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. The Crimson’s top two varsity boats came in first against the Quakers and Big Red, with the 1V edging Cornell’s boat by two seconds and the 2V seeing a slightly larger margin of victory at six seconds.
“Cornell is looking like one of the strongest teams in the league this year, so it was nice to get in our first [Ivy] race against them,” said Andrew Campbell, rowing in the seventh seat of the first varsity boat. “We thought we had a good piece, came off the line very strong—probably one of our strongest starts of the season so far—and we settled into a lead fairly early on and built upon it down the course.”
Harvard’s 3V boat rode a strong tailwind to a 6:17.1 finish, 12 seconds behind the Big Red’s crew. The novice eight boat finished in third behind Cornell and Penn in a tightly-contested race, as all three boats crossed the finish line within a span of three seconds.
The Crimson then went to Princeton’s Lake Carnegie to face off with Georgetown’s crews, where similar rowing conditions yielded quick races.
“It’s always fun racing [Georgetown]—they’re really physical and a strong crew,” said Erich Schultze, rowing in the three seat of the 1V boat. “The conditions were really fast when we raced here [with] a strong tailwind. It’s good to practice rowing in tougher conditions, which is going to be a theme for us moving forward because we have a couple of races in the basin coming up.”
The first varsity boat overcame minor complications to pull out a victory, beating Georgetown by 14 seconds.
“After Saturday’s race [junior] Michael Wales was feeling really sick, so we changed our lineup for Sunday, putting Schultze into the three seat and the crew really blended together within a matter of strokes off the dock,” Campbell said. “It wasn’t a problem at all.”
The second varsity eight pulled out the largest margin of victory on the day, beating Harvard’s 3V team by nearly 20 seconds and the Hoyas’ 2V by 25 seconds. The second novice four and novice eight also defeated the Georgetown novices by 12 seconds apiece.
—Staff writer Samantha Lin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @linsamnity.