If you're looking for a proud tradition in rowing, Weld Boathouse--home of the Radcliffe crews--isn't a bad place to turn. Today marks the beginning of another chapter in the story, as both the lights and the heavyweights go to the line against Boston University on the Charles, beginning at 8:30 and running until noon.
For the heavyweights, the Terrier race is an important tune-up for meetings with powerhouses Princeton and Yale later this month, in a season that points toward the Eastern spring championship at Pittsfield, Mass., May 14 (for the lightweight story, see below).
Radcliffe had won the Easterns three consecutive years, from 1973 to 1975, before Wisconsin swiped the title in '76 and Yale edged the Weld residents by 1.4 seconds last year.
This year's crew hopes to reverse that decision. The lineup, despite the fact that only three rowers return from last year's second-place Easterns boat, looks reasonably strong.
The returnees are junior stroke Cynthia Strong, fiercely competitive captain Ruth Colker (two-seat), and junior Becky Goff in the three-seat. Anne Benton, a lean and smooth freshman who sculled in Europe over the summer, will sit behind Strong at seven. A couple of veterans who took a year off from rowing, Karen Oberhauser and Nelia Worsley, will take charge of the five-seat and the bow, respectively. Former J.V. rower Cathy Dement will supply a lot of power from the six-seat, while scrappy sophomore Kelly Ronan--a stroke on last year's novice eight--will sit four.
First-year coach Carie Graves, a former Olympic oarswoman and a member of the Wisco boat that won the '76 Easterns, has jumped boathouses and is excited about this year's campaign.
"I don't give beans about Harvard or Wisconsin--I care about the people I row with or coach," Graves said yesterday.
Graves would like to learn something about the boat in her inaugural race, in hopes of preparing for next week's Princeton race and the rest of the schedule.
The crew should not have too much trouble against Dartmouth and Mt. Holyoke the week after Princeton, but then comes one of the toughest races of the year--Yale. The Elis already own a 14-second decision over Connecticut College this spring.
But don't expect Radcliffe to capsize against this year's tough competition.
"The boat feels good," Strong said yesterday. "We're sort of an underdog, and it's exciting and aggressive." You bet it is.
The ice is gone, seat racing's over, and now it's time for the good stuff as the Radcliffe lightweights finally open their season this morning against their perennial nemesis and toughest regular-season opponent, Boston University.
Although the contest features the two premier lightweight crews of the East, the Radcliffe squad is not physically peaking for the confrontation with its archrival.
"We're working relatively hard today--a couple of 1000s--we're not tapering for the race," coach Peter Huntsman said yesterday.