Just seconds out of the gate, the Harvard men’s heavyweight crew team accelerated past Northeastern to take an early lead. After finding open water within the first 500 meters, the No. 4 Crimson never looked back en route to its 35th straight victory.
Harvard finished six seconds ahead of the No. 10 Huskies, winning its 17th consecutive Smith Cup in open-water fashion.
“Just mentally, it’s good to know that anyone that we’ve raced we’ve been able to beat,” senior Andrew Reed said. “It gives us confidence that no matter what the competition is, we will be able to put out a really strong effort and be in contention for first and second place.”
After last year’s head-to-head race when both teams smashed the previous Smith Cup record of 5:37.3 set by Harvard in 2000, the Crimson knew not to take the Huskies lightly. In addition, the absence of junior Charlie Risbey, who usually rows in the seventh seat of Harvard’s first varsity boat, forced the team to adjust its lineup and left a question mark about how the race would pan out.
Senior Gregory Edwards stepped up from his spot in the second varsity boat to fill the hole.
“[Edwards] shows the depth of the squad and how strong we are top to bottom,” captain Andrew Holmes said. “Basically anyone can fill that seat, and we can be just as fast.”
This depth has been critical for the Crimson in the first half of its season, as several of the rowers in the 1V8 have been plagued by a variety of injuries and illnesses.
Although other Harvard rowers have filled those absences in the first varsity boat, the Crimson’s lower boats have suffered from the need for substitutions and the reshuffling of rowers. Inconsistent lineups in training and races have made it especially difficult for these boats to gel.
This was evident on Saturday as Northeastern defeated Harvard by nearly twenty seconds in both the third and fourth varsity races.
The second varsity race, however, came down to the final stroke.
After trailing Harvard’s freshman eight for nearly the entire race, the Huskies’ second varsity boat came on strong in the final 500 meters to edge out the Crimson. Harvard’s 1F crossed the finish line at 6:15.7, just 0.4 seconds behind the Huskies and two seconds ahead of the Crimson's 2V8.