After a successful fall season and an offseason filled with long practices and indoor training, the third-ranked Harvard-Radcliffe lightweight crew squad returned to the familiar waters of the Charles River to open its season against Boston University and MIT at the annual Beanpot Regatta.
The Black and White, which won the regatta last year, defended its title with victories by the first varsity and second varsity eight against the local adversaries. The third varsity eight and novice four also turned in solid performances, placing second in their respective races.
“It was really exciting [to win], and it bodes well for future races,” said sophomore Gabbie Giugliano, coxswain of the second varsity eight boat. ”Since the river has been frozen, it’s nice to go back out there and win because it means all the hard work during the winter has paid off.”
Unlike the fall races, such as the three-mile Head of the Charles that tend to cover longer distances, the Beanpot is a sprint race in which teams start at the Harvard Bridge and cover a 2000-meter span.
Despite the race being a distance shorter than what the team prepares for in the fall, the offseason provided a platform to prepare the Black and White.
“The long winter was a blessing in disguise,” said junior co-captain Andrea Linares, stroke of the second varsity eight boat. “We were able to use those months to really prepare for longer pieces than the [2000-meters], so were able to perform very well.”
Harvard’s first varsity eight kicked off the competition with a convincing win, which saw the boat lead the race from start to finish. The Black and White crossed the finish line with a time of 6:46.7, a full eight seconds ahead of the second-place Terriers crew. The Engineers would check in almost half a minute later with a time of 7:15.4.
The second varsity eight followed up its teammate’s victory with a triumph of its own, clocking in at 7:03.5, 6.5 seconds faster than BU, which completed the race in 7:10.0. MIT would once again finish at the tail end of the sprint with a time of 7:33.0.
The race saw the Radcliffe crew shoot out past MIT at the start of the race before using a strong surge at the 300-meter mark to gain momentum and take control early on in the race. Another push near the halfway point allowed the team to take full command of the race.
“A big turning point was at the Mass Ave Bridge near the 1000 [meter] mark,” Linares said. “We really rowed together, had a solid groove and we were able to pull away from them.”
The third race of the morning saw the Black and White barely fail to continue its winning streak, with the third varsity eight losing a close race to BU. The Terriers edged out Harvard by a half length, finishing with a time of 7:19.6, just 1.1 seconds ahead of the Black and White.
The novice four race followed a similar story, with Harvard once again losing the race by a half-length to MIT. The Engineers clocked in at 8:32.1 while Harvard followed 1.4 seconds later at 8:33.5.
The success which the team experienced in the fall helped build the motivation and confidence which Harvard hopes to use for a successful spring season.
“HOCR gave us a huge confidence boost,” Giugliano said. “That was a high pressure situation where we had to test ourselves against some of the best team. Being able to do so well showed us that we were a fast team…. Because the races were all so close, it made us excited to train hard and take as many names as we can in future races.”
Despite the success of Saturday morning, the team felt that there are still many steps which can be taken to assure that the Black and White continues its winning ways.
“There are always areas that the team can work on,” Linares said. “One of the thing that we’ll need to get down is our surge…. We just haven’t had enough time on the water to solidify that surge. Our sprint can also be improved, but those really will just come with time on the water.”