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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
SATURDAY, May 15, was all that could be desired as to the weather overhead, but a strong breeze blew up the Charles River course, and did much to make the times of the crews poor. At about three o'clock the tug left the West Boston Bridge pier, and steamed over to the Union Boat House, where Dr. Charles H. Williams, the Referee, was taken on board. Fifteen or twenty minutes were then lost in mooring the judges' boat, after which the tug proceeded to the mile buoy, where F. B. Holder, '81, and G. H. Williams, '81, were waiting to compete in the Junior Scullers' race. At the word "Go," Williams, who had the outside course, took the water first and got a lead of half a length, which he doubled during the first quarter. Holder then caught up, by a long and steady stroke, and at the half-mile passed Williams. From this point on the race was easily Holder's, although Williams made a good spurt at the finish, coming in a length and a half behind. The time was very poor, Holder's being 8 m. 46 s., and Williams' 8 m. 51 s.
G. Griswold, '80, and A. L. Hall, '80, were entered in the Senior race, the latter getting a slight advantage at the start. Both men were rowing a very rapid stroke when, in less than a minute, Griswold caught a "crab" and shot into the water. He was helped out by some spectators in a boat near by, and his shell - the right wash-board of which was smashed - was towed ashore. Hall consented to start again, but as Griswold refused, Hall rowed over the course alone, and was awarded the prize.
The Referee's boat then proceeded to the Railroad Bridge to start the Class Crews. The Juniors arrived first, soon followed by the Seniors and Sophomores; the Freshmen were last to appear, having been detained by a slight accident at the Boat House. Owing to some mistake, the railroad drawbridge was not open, and after repeated attempts to have it opened, the crews were obliged to shoot under it, at imminent peril to their boats, on account of the high tide.
The Freshmen were nearest the Beacon Street wall; then came '81, '82, and '80 respectively. At the start the Sophomores took the water first, and had a lead of half a length, but the Freshmen, to the surprise of every one, by a fast and strong stroke, quickly took the lead, and by the end of the first minute were a good length in advance. From that time on they were virtually out of the race, gaining at every stroke. But the struggle between the three upper class crews was long and exciting. For a mile no one could be seen to shake off the others. At the beginning of the last half '82 slowly forged ahead, and '80, although badly demoralized and pulling a ragged stroke, gained slightly on '81. The Juniors all this time had been rowing in splendid form, but their light weight seemed to tell against them. On entering the last half-mile, however, they began one of the most magnificent spurts (as Mr. Bancroft remarked) ever seen on Charles River.
They left '80, which had almost gone to pieces, and drew up even with '82, but in the final brush the Sophomores managed to cross the line four feet in advance. The time of '83 was 10 m. 41 s.; of '82, 11 m. 4 s.; of '81, 11 m. 5 s., and of '80, 11 m. 15 s. Too much praise cannot be given to the wonderful manner in which the Freshmen took the lead, and won by seven lengths.
Dr. Charles H. Williams was referee, and the following gentlemen acted as judges: Messrs. W. A. Bancroft, F. Peabody, Jr., H. G. Danforth, and W. Trimble.
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