After several days of sight-seeing and bad food, the Harvard heavyweight crew placed third in a field of six in the Nile Festival Regatta at Cairo, Egypt, on December 26.
A strong, fast Oxford team finished just a 1/4-length ahead of the Sports Club at Cologne boat. The German boat captured second place by sneaking up in the last lane to overtake Harvard by a yard at the finish.
Two Egyptian boats trailed Harvard, with the University of Paris boat finishing last.
Poor racing conditions voided the results of a first meeting of the teams two days before on the Suez Canal. Rough water forced several collisions. Harvard collided first with the German team, and later with the Oxford and Egyptian teams.
After the German boat finished in Lane 2 after starting in Lane 5, officials nullified the race. "I've never seen boats so full of water," freshman coach Ted Washburn said yesterday.
For the 11 Harvard oarsmen it was the first trip to Egypt. "The Egyptian government did their best to make it more than an athletic event," senior Dave Keefe said. "The first couple of days, we really saw the richness of their history. But you could sense the ways things have changed."
"When we got there, we were ushered around to see pyramids and museums, and your mind gets off the races," sophomore Dave Boghossian said yesterday. "We probably could have done better, but all the bad food, strange surroundings, travel and jet lag just got to us."
Don't Drink the Water
"You couldn't even drink the funny water, and you were always a little thirsty," sophomore Tom Howes added. "We just weren't really prepared like if it was a big international regatta."
Keefe said an abundance of hourlies and papers due before vacation also hampered the Crimson.
"We had a bad time with the terrible boats, but I don't want to take anything from the Oxford team," Keefe said.
Washburn attributed the third place finish to other causes. "We were racing six boats on a four boat river," he said yesterday. "We drew the last lane, and our oars were about a foot away from the rocks. Plus, we had an extra-sharp turn."
Washburn felt the Oxford boat had an unfair advantage racing in Lane 4, where the current was fastest. "There's no doubt we would have won if we were in Lane 4," he said.
Harvard rowed without the help of several top varsity members, including Captain Hovey Kemp. Preference was given to members who had previously sat out the Egypt trip.
"I was extremely pleased," Washburn said. "The Oxford team has been rowing together for over a year, and it's their top boat. And the Germans had five members of the German National Team. Under those racing shirts, they were wearing Olympic T-shirts."
"We have a lot of reasons to think we can have a really fast boat this spring, and you can't tell by this race," Boghassian said.
"It's really hard to say just how fast we'll be," Keefe added. "I guess it comes down to how hard we'll decide to work."