A boat’s name can endow the shell with special meaning and be a unifying force among its oarsmen. In my time as a rower, I have seen a variety of boat names painted across bow decks. Some names have resounded with qualities that are intrinsic to any successful crew, such as “Persistence” or “Resilience,” while others have left me staring blankly, or even worse, fighting a fit of laughter.
This past Saturday, the Harvard men’s heavyweight varsity dedicated its sleek, yellow Empacher eight to Olympic gold medalist and former Crimson rower, Malcolm Howard ’05. There is no question what the name of this boat will represent to those who sit in its seats.
At Harvard, Howard made it his job to get crews across the finish line first. In his three years on the varsity squad, Howard went undefeated in intercollegiate competition, helping secure three consecutive national titles for the Crimson.
After college, Howard went on to train and compete at the international level, representing his home country, Canada. At the 2008 Olympics, Howard was a member of the Canadian men’s eight that won gold in Beijing. The following year, Rowing News selected him for honorable mention in the search for Male Athlete of the Year for 2009.
Howard’s rowing career is a record of excellence and accomplishment, something that he shares in common with the shell that now bears his name. The new Harvard varsity boat happens to bring with it a legacy of success that is already entwined with Howard’s rowing history. The Empacher is the shell that Howard raced in at Beijing as the Canadian men’s eight rowed to gold.
Many former Harvard rowers returned to Newell Boathouse and to the Charles River banks on Saturday to watch the dedication of the Malcolm Howard ’05 and to see it race the Princeton Tigers and MIT Engineers for the Compton Cup. For those who witnessed the race, it was a true testament to the durability of the hull. The Tigers veered into Harvard’s lane after losing their steering mechanism. Princeton’s bow deck collided with the stern of the Malcolm Howard ’05, and, while the Tiger’s bow cracked and a large end portion was lost to the Charles, the Harvard eight moved swiftly away, structurally undamaged, and finished first to claim the Compton Cup.
Certainly, this boat is living up to its name thus far, and after this past weekend’s encounter with Princeton, the legend of the Malcolm Howard ’05 will only grow.