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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Heavyweights Take Opening Race; Extend Win Streak to Thirty-three

By Peter D. Lennon

Harvard's varsity heavyweight crew had to battle not only Brown and Rutgers, but also the terrible conditions of the choppy, garbage-strewn Seekonk River on the way to its 33rd consecutive intercollegiate victory and its fifth straight Stein Cup triumph Saturday.

Harvard last lost to a United States college crew in 1963, and has never lost possession of the Stein trophy.

It was an easy win for the Crimson, who finished three and a half lengths ahead of Brown and four and a quarter in front of Rutgers.

Harvard coach Harry Parker was forced to change his strategy and switch shells because of the northeaster-swept Seekonk. The Crimson rowed in the freshman crew's Pocock shell which is better balanced and rides higher in rough water than the varsity's regular low-profile Stampfli boat.

The Crimson heavies will face M.I.T. again in the Compton Cup next Friday, but much more important will be the race against Princeton, also in the Compton Cup race, who will be Harvard's toughest competitor to date.

The change paid off as Harvard was never threatened and clocked a fast 5.42.7 for the 2000 meter course. Brown finished in 5.54.0 and Rutgers closed back with a 5.58.0.

Sophomore cox Tom Tiffany, starting his first race for the Crimson varsity proved he could handle a top boat in strange waters as he skillfully piloted Harvard around floating debris, especially near the finish line.

Tiffany sent the Crimson off the line at a high 43 strokes per minute for the first 11 sweeps, and Harvard moved into a four seat lead it was never to relinquish.

Dead From the Start

Dropping to a 39 for the next 12 strokes Harvard settled at a 36 1/2 for the first 1000 meters and the Crimson widened its margin to two lengths by the midpoint of the race. Brown tried to close the gap in the third quarter when Harvard fell to a 35 1/2, but the Crimson responded with a 37 for the final 500 meters and it was all over for the Bruins. The Scarlet Knights were out of it from the start.

The Crimson lightweights had a rougher time of it this weekend as they edged M.I.T. for their fifth straight Biglin Bowl victory Dartmouth, the other shell in the race was never in the competition for the lead.

M.I.T. pushed Harvard throughout the race, but the Crimson fought off each Tech surge to finish in 6:16.42 to M.I.T.'s 6:20.60 for the 2000 meter course.

Harvard stroked away from the line at 45 and Tech was right behind at 43. The Crimson settled to a 34 and after the first quarter gained the length lead they were never to lose.

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