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Harvard Lights Find a Sprint; Hold off Navy by Two Seats

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The Harvard lights led Navy from start to finish Saturday, rowing the last 400 meters at the furious cadence of 39 strokes per minute to hold off the sprinting Midshipmen by two seats.

The final sprint was the big story--for the last two weeks, when Harvard needed the fast finish, it wasn't there. And Saturday was the right time to find it, for the Navy crew was not about to fade or catch a crab, as Columbia and Dartmouth were kind enough to do last month.

The Harvard J.V. and 3V boats also turned in strong performances after their fluky wins last weekend. Both boats jumped to quick starts, and opened comfortable leads on Navy.

The J.V. finished in 6:20, with a two-and-a-half length victory, and the 3V shell turned in the surprising time of 6:11, winning with three seats of open water.

The varsity jumped to a lead at the start and gradually built it up, rowing at 36 strokes per minute. At 500 meters "we all expected that we would win," new stroke Kevin Cunningham said yesterday.

At 1000 meters Harvard was beginning to put open water on the Navy shell, but the Midshipmen held on. "We couldn't shake them loose," captain Jeff Parker said.

At 1400 meters Navy made its move, picking up the cadence to 39. The Harvard lead soon dwindled to six seats, but the Crimson met the challenge with a 400 meter sprint, and the crossed the finish in 6:09, edging Navy by a second.

"They [Navy] were a good crew to go that high cadence all the way," Parker said later. But if they were good, the Crimson--whose ranks had been switched around at midweek--were better. Whether or not the switches made a difference, "Our setup was better, we just rowed much more together," Parker said.

"It was exhausting," Cunningham said after the race, but he added that if Navy had been closer, Harvard could have given even more. "We were in control," he said, telling quite a different story from the last two weeks.

Next weekend, Harvard takes on Princeton and Yale at Princeton, in what promises to be the toughest race of the season. Princeton beat Navy earlier this year by a few seconds, and lost by just half a second to defending Eastern Sprints champion Penn on Saturday.

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