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May 1971: Harvard, defeated by Navy the week before, enters the Eastern Sprints confidently. For two years previously the Crimson has lost to Penn in the Adams Cup only to come right back and take the Easterns.
This time Harry Parker juggles his boat, switching strokes and making general adjustments. They don't work and Navy wins the Sprints; it's the first time in seven years that a Harvard crew has not been champion, and the start of a long dry spell. May 1972: Harvard is undefeated going into the Sprints, looking for its toughest competition from Penn and defending champion Navy. The two boats will race side by side in the afternoon finals; Harry Parker tells coxswain Dave Weinberg not to bother about any other crew-look out for Penn.
Harvard rows the best first 1000 of its entire season, 3 minutes flat into a headwind; the third 500 is slow but the Crimson leads the field and has beaten Penn psychologically. Northeastern pulls even with 200 meters to go and launches its sprint; they shoot by the exhausted Crimson, winning easily and extending Harvard's defeated streak to two. Juniors Bill Mahoney and Gene Lebarre stare uncomprehendingly at the Huskie boat which no one had even talked about during the season. Neither has ever won in the Sprints.
May 1973: Harvard is undefeated going into the Sprints and has the benefit of several strong oarsmen from the previous year's undefeated frosh boat. The Crimson beats Brown by a substantial margin, more than champion Northeastern. Seniors Lebarre and Mahoney know that this is the one.
Wisconsin is really the crew to look out for, the strong muscle crew, this Harvard boat won't lose to the Huskies again. Harvard goes out strong and rows the best race of its season, staying even with Northeastern and ahead of Wisconsin coming into the last 500 meters. The Huskie crew explodes at the end of the race, moving by the Crimson for the second year in a row.
Co-captains Lebarre and Mahoney are dumbfounded; the goal has eluded them for four years. Lebarre is last seen heading out of Cambridge on a motorcycle. May 1974: Harvard is undefeated going into the Eastern Sprints, with convincing wins over every crew on its schedule. Seeded first and heavily favored, yet never having won the Sprints, seniors Dave Fellows and Dave Weinberg find themselves uncomfortable whenever they think of Lebarre and Mahoney. This time the predictions are right and the Crimson, after a shaky start, wins by a length of open water over Wisconsin. "How smooth is that?" asks junior stroke Al Shealy.
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