A group of rowing enthusiasts, members of the Kirkland House crew, have been proving for a year that there is fun to be had on the river without having to go through Harry Parker's Spartan rigors at Newell Boathouse.
The Kirkland House crew, after capturing the 1972 intramural rowing championship, was satisfied after the three-week spring rowing season. Forgotten were the dreams, ambitions and discipline introduced to them in the freshman rowing program at Newell.
The oarsmen in Kirkland would stay somewhat frustrated having been squeezed out of the regular program by the world class talent cultivated at the varsity rowing level.
Dreams of Glory
The story changed, if slightly, last fall when Kirkland House finished 14th, 20 places ahead of the next House crew, in the intermediate eights at the Head of the Charles Regatta. In a small celebration afterwards with Kirkland's former master, Arthur Smithies, dreams and talk of international competition in England came to light.
By late February people were straining at the ergometers, puffing up and down the stadium steps and running circuits. During spring vacation the crew stayed in Cambridge and held double daily practices. The boat, stroked by former heavyweight crew captain, Gene LaBarre, '73, edged out Lowell House by what was to become classic Kirkland sprint finishing style, and captured the intramural House championship.
Though each member of the crew had pledged $250, some of the funds for a trip to England came from a mailing to Kirkland alumni. An urgent telephone campaign brought in close to $1,200.
During Commencement, however some fund raising stunts in the form of luncheon speeches by Larry Poos '76 and coxswain Bob Bennet '74 netted the final sum of over $3,200 in contributions and made the trip to England a reality.
Hobnobbing With the Elite
The crew competed in the elite division II at the Nottinghamshire International Regatta and ended up fifth, competing against world-class competition. Then came the Henley Royal Regatta where Kirkland House competed in the Ladies Challenge Plate and advanced to the quarterfinals.
The goal of competing internationally was reached, yet for juniors Larry Poos and Dave Keefe, the English attitude towards rowing was the most beneficial part of the trip. Skillful yet not exhaustive, and competitive yet not cutthroat was how they described their spirit.
They hope to establish a tradition and an organization that will offer an alternative between the high pressure varsity level and the minimal intramural spring competition.
At present, though Gene LaBarre has gone, along with four others from the Henley crew, Kirkland has entered two boats in the Head of the Charles Regatta. And they seem to be planning for the future already.
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