Harvard's undefeated heavyweight crew lays it all on the line when it races the University of Pennsylvania and Navy of the Adams Cup tomorrow on Philadelphia's Schuylkill River.
Navy should be out of it from the start, but the 2000-meter contest between the two best crews in the East in being watched closely as an indicator of the possible outcome of the Eastern Sprints on May 10.
Penn, also undefeated, it the only crew powerful enough to have any chance of stopping Harvard's intercollegiate rowing juggernaut, and the Quakers would lke nothing better than to break the Crimson's five-year stranglehold on both the Adams Cup and the Eastern Rowing title.
Both Penn and Harvard started their seasons on impressive notes. The Crimson easily dispatched all its opponents by at least two length margins, besting its toughest foe to date, Princeton, by over seven seconds.
Penn began a little slower, downing Princeton by only a two-second margin, but came on strong to roll over a good Yale beat by three and a half lengths in its first race.
Harvard coach Harry Parker decided not to make any line-up changes as he did before the last race, and the Crimson goes into tomorrow's race with the same crew which won against Princeton. "Everything seems to be going very well." Parker said, "and I saw no reason to change at this time."
The Usual Race
The Crimson should row its usual race, coming off the line at a high 45 strokes per minute for the first ten pulls, dropping to about a 41 for the next ten, and then setting to about a 37 until the final sprint. Parker decided to take the Peacock shell because of the "pretty good chance of some rough water," but since the crew has raced in the shell the last two times out, it should have no effect on their performance.
Penn, on the other hand, has made a number of line-up shifts in its two races. Coach Joe Burk rates his rowers on a point system depending on their performance during practices, and those with the highest point total over the last 50 races start on the varsity.
For tomorrow's race, Penn will have four veterans from last year's varsity boat which Harvard edged by four inches in the Olympic trials to become the U.S. representative to the Games. One of the four rowed in the games as a member of the U.S.'s "four with cox" crew.
Two other oarsmen stated on the undefeated freshman boat which won the Eastern Sprints and the Intercollegiate Rowing Association title last year.
The Quakers plan surprises for the race. "We'll just row the race that we can do best," Burk said. A lower-stroking boat that the Crimson, Penn will probably start at a medium-high 39 strokes and then settle to a 36-37 until the final spring at 38-40.
Height and Weight
Add all this to the fact that both crews are about the same height and weight (Harvard averages 6' 21/4", 194 pounds; Penn, 6'3", 193 pounds), and the result comes out to the Eastern rowing season. It is so bad that neither coach will make a concrete prediction.
"I think it's going to be a very close, hard race," Parker said, "and I think we're capable of winning it. They are very strong and well-conditioned, but there is no indication that are beyond our reach," he added.
"I'm sure that this is a typical Harvard crew," Burk said. "They will be just as tough as Harvard crews in the past, and the race can go either way. Which ever beat is 'on' the day of the race will win," he said. "We're hopeful that we can do it."
Hopefull, Harvard will be the turned-on crew tomorrow.