The Crimson lightweights open the defense of their Eastern and Ivy League rowing titles today, facing Columbia and Rutgers in New York. The Harvard eight, coming off a rigorous pre-season training schedule, is built around a solid core of veteran oarsmen.
All-Ivy rowers Tony Brooks, Andy Narva, Jim Richardson, and Phin Sprague return from last season's record-shattering boat to make up the nucleus of this year's squad. Joining this proven quartet will be seniors Rick Eustus and Captain Howie Burnett, along with a pair of sophomores, George Host and Pete Huntsman. Jay Galeski is the coxswain.
Crimson coach Steve Gladstone said on Thursday that he expected a solid Harvard performance in today's opening race.
"I have been really pleased the last two days." Gladstone said, "The varsity boat has shown some good signs the last couple of day, displaying good speed over the short stretches and rowing well together."
Columbia will pose the most serious threat to Harvard's chances. The Lions finished strongly last year, coming in second behind the Crimson in the Eastern Sprints. However, Columbia traditionally takes a while to get untracked in the early par of the season, and it may be too early for the Lions to challenge seriously Harvard's lightweights.
"Columbia has a volatile group of rowers," Gladstone said, "Under the right conditions they could be a significant threat. If they start strongly, they'll be tough all the way." The Crimson will have more than the Columbia and Rutgers boats to compete against when they race this afternoon on New York's Harlem River. The Harvard Athletic Department, tightening its belt like other units of the University, decided to but rather than to fly the squad. More than one lightweight rower was less than enthusiastic about combating the combined natural hazards of a ridiculous traveling schedule and a garbage-infested river race.
The Varsity boat shapes up with Burnett at seat one. Huntsman at two, Host at three, Narva at four, Sprague at five. Brooks at six. Richardson at seven, and Eustus at stroke.
In today's preliminary action the JV and freshman boats will take on their Columbia and Rutgers counterparts. The competition will be the first real racing for many of the young Harvard rowers, and Gladstone is anxious to see how they will react to the pressure.
"I'm really confident in this squad," Gladstone summed up. "With the nucleus of returning lettermen who have proved that they will perform in competition, we should have a very consistent boat.