Saturday morning was sunny and warm, but it was not so bright for the Radcliffe lightweight crew as they dropped a disappointing season-opener to Andover, in action on the Charles.
Coach Peter Huntsman kept his varsity light boat out of the race because he felt the oarswomen from his number one eight would be too strong for the prep school rowers. Huntsman raced his number two and three boats, junior varsity and novice, respectively, against Andover's heavyweight varsity boat.
But the second-flight lightweights were not strong enough to overpower the Andover women, and the Crimson were unable to capture the lead at any time during the metric-mile sprint down the Charles. After a quick start, Andover sped to victory, well ahead of the Radcliffe boats. Radcliffe's novice boat finished second, and the JV boat stroked in third.
The Crimson women of Radcliffe's number two boat, the number one boat on Saturday due to the varsity's absence, may have been at a slight disadvantage because they were racing in a Boston University shell.
The Radcliffe heavyweights, rowing against Princeton that morning, had taken both Radcliffe Schoenbrod racing shells to New Jersey, leaving the lightweights to compete in a borrowed Terrier shell.
Kathy Kirk, a freshman who rowed from the number two seat of that B.U. boat on Saturday, said that the borrowed shell may have made some difference. "It was the first time we had been in that boat," she said, "and we never really adjusted to it. The rigging was different and the boat did not lean the way our own shell does."
Against Andover's JV lightweight boat, Radcliffe fared much better. The Crimson number four shell, a novice crew, had the power to outdistance the "preppies" and win their first sprint of the season.
In the week ahead, the lightweights will have to regroup and get prepared to face B.U., the team that Huntsman expects to be one of Radcliffe's toughest opponents of the season. That confrontation will be part of next Saturday morning's six-team race down the Charles.