Harvard Training Quarters, Red Top, Conn., June 24, 1909.--Today's work for all crews was exceptionally light on account of the continued hot weather. In the morning the University eight paddled down-stream to the mile mark and back in easy stretches. There was no hard work of any kind and no racing starts were tried. The Freshman eight covered about a mile and one-half, while all the fours had slightly harder practice. The University and Freshman fours rowed down to the Navy Yard and back, trying a few racing starts which were won by the University boat. The second four also tried some racing starts and covered about a mile and one-half in all.
While the afternoon's work was naturally harder than that in the morning still it was very light. The University eight went out about 5.15 o'clock and was followed down-stream to the mile and one-half mark by the University four. The eight rowed in very short stretches about 30 strokes to the minute, and Coach Wray followed in his single scull, coaching the men on their individual faults. L. Withington at 5 does not seem to get his shoulders on very well at the catch, and Lunt's finish is not yet satisfactory. The whole crew is inclined to tear at the water at the catch instead of dropping the oars in quickly without jerking. In spite of these slight faults, however, the crew continues to show marked improvement with every row. The Freshman eight did no harder work than in the morning, with the exception of one racing start with the stroke at 40, the boat going especially well. After covering about two miles, the three fours lined up for a short sprint in which the second four won by half a length. The University four rows in very good form and is well together, but needs a lot of work rowing long stretches at a high stroke.
Both squads listened to reports of the baseball game which came by special wire direct from Soldiers Field. The victory was celebrated tonight by a huge bonfire, fireworks, and many crimson lights.
Development of the University Crew.
The University crew started work last fall with the best of prospects. Captain Richardson was the only man lost by graduation and the fall rowing started with seven men who rowed against Yale last year. R. W. Cutler '11 at 6 was the only new man in the boat. When the spring season started late in February after the resignation of Captain Severance on account of illness, there were still six veterans on the crew. L. Withington, Jr., '11 having taken Severance's place at 5, the crew remained in this order until the sudden change of a week ago. With six experienced oars in the boat and two of the best oars from last year's winning Freshman crew, the development of the crew was naturally very rapid. There was not the trouble-some problem of finding a stroke, and the eight was apparently seated at the outset of the season in the exact order in which it would row Yale, almost four months from then. Up to the time of the Columbia race on April 17, the boat was moving very fast. The crew was remarkably well together for so early in the season, and Sargent still had his ability to row a high stroke and keep it for a long distance, or to raise or lower it at will without losing his rhythmic heat. His stroke was well proportioned and full of life. At that time the crew was rowing as well as if not better than it is today. The Columbia race was won easily by six lengths, the race in itself being no test.
After this race the crew started more direct preparation for the four-mile race with Yale. Although the crew had been practicing a high stroke before the Columbia race, it now took longer rows and at a lower stroke. There was not much direct preparation at a high stroke for the two-mile race with Cornell on May 31. Although the men went to Ithaca confident in their strength, the crew had not shown the improvement it should have since the Columbia race, in spite of the fact that the men were even better together. This confidence either amounted to gross over-confidence or the men overrated their strength. The crew rowed poorly, losing its form in this race, and was consequently thoroughly though not overwhelmingly defeated. Sargent's work in this race was not satisfactory to Coach Wray. After resting a few days the crew resumed work in Cambridge, having about two weeks there before leaving for New London. In these few days the crew seemed to go backward rather than forward in its development. A decided hang was developed at the catch, the life and dash of the crew was gone, the stroke was considerably shortened, and Sargent did not regain his form. In the first few days at New London the crew improved materially and seemed to be emerging from its slump, but the work was still not what it should be. On Friday, June 18, the sudden, though not entirely unexpected, change came. Sargent, in the time trial on the day before, had been late in his stroke for the last mile and a half of the course, and seemed to have lost all the good points so characteristic of his work last year. He was removed from stroke and his place was taken by R. W. Cutler '11, who had been rowing 6 all the year, and P. Withington '09, who had been at 2 in the four, took Cutler's place at 6. In a four-mile paddle over the course on time the next-day the new order worked well. Cutler's stroke was longer than Sargent's with the result that all the men behind him lengthened out. The change, coming as it did less than two weeks before the race, seemed dangerous; but some radical action was necessary, and if the crew continues to improve as it has since the change, there is no reason why the new order should not be an improvement on the old in spite of its late date.
Progress of Yale Eight.
Yale started the season with poor prospects. Two members of last year's university eight, last year's substitutes, and the members of the freshman crew formed a nucleus for the 1909 crew. Until after the two-mile race with Pennsylvania, in which Yale was defeated, there was the problem of finding a stroke. Captain Howe was tried, but was found to be too heavy and slow for the position. After the race Wallis, who stroked Yale's winning university four last year, was put in at stroke, Howe returning to his old seat at 6. The other places were filed from members of last year's freshman eights and university fours. Although there was much bad weather on the harbor at New Haven, the crew improved steadily and consistently, until it was as efficient as the average fast eight which Coach Kennedy regularly turns out. At New London the crew has rowed two fast time trials and continued to improve. The crew this year seems to be different from the Yale crews of other years. The men seem to row shorter, and the long, hard catch and finish are not so pronounced as in former years. The crew is very well together, and a well-balanced and smoothly-moving combination, although a sinking of the boat and slight check between strokes is perceptible.
Comparison of Harvard and Yale.
By way of comparison of the two crews Harvard is perhaps physically superior and has the advantage of greater experience. The stroke-oars in both crews have never rowed in a four-mile race. Wallis stroked the winning Yale university four last year, while Cutler was the stroke of last year's winning Harvard Freshman eight. Both are very smooth oars and row a long, well-proportioned stroke, but of the two Cutler is a great deal the heavier and more rugged. By the time of the race both crews should be fast and in the best of condition. A prediction of the result is very uncertain and the race alone can decide between the crews.
The University four has suffered from repeated changes of order, but in spite of this is a very fast crew. Although Sargent was removed from the University eight his efficiency as a stroke is by no means gone, and his work as stroke in the four is invaluable. Severance at 3, with two years' experience on the University eight, is the best man in the boat. His rowing is always of a high order and he steadies the whole crew. This year's Yale four does not seem to be up to the usual standard. The crew seems to row much shorter than last year's four and the men all tear at the water without regard to form, but the boat seems to move fast. On the showing of both crews to date, Harvard should win this race.
The Freshman crew is an exceptionally fast eight. The order has remained unchanged with the exception of a few days since about the middle of April. Although the crew was badly beaten by the Cornell freshmen in their two mile race at Ithaca on May 31, it was simply defeated by an all-round superior crew, and contrary to popular opinion rowed very well. After this race the crew improved in its work at Cambridge, and up to date at New London the improvement has continued. During the whole season the chief fault of the crew has been a tendency to go to pieces when rowing a high stroke, but this has been in great part overcome. The crew is heavier than the average Freshman crew, and is especially fortunate in having as good a stroke as Newton. The Yale freshman eight this year seems to be unusually poor. Almost daily changes during the first part of the work at New London have put the crew back considerably. The eight is still very crude, and the men are not at all well together. Although the crew is sure to improve, it does not seem as if it could win the race. Of the Yale freshman four little is known, but it is sure that Harvard's Freshman four is fast. The graduate eights have not as yet been made up.
The officials for the race have not yet all been decided on. W. A. Meikleham, of Columbia, will again act as referee, and F. V. Chappell, of Yale, will fill the place left vacant by C. H. Schweppe '02, as chairman of the regatta committee.
The orders at present are as follows:
Harvard University eight--Stroke, R. Cutler; 7, Waid; 6, P. Withington; 5, L. Withington; 4, Bacon; 3, Faulkner; 2, Lunt; bow, E. Cutler; cox., Blagden.