Local Philadelphia residents refer to the Schuykill River as the "Sure Kill" because of its rampant pollution and acid pH balance. The waterway did indeed mean death for the Pennsylvania and Navy heavyweight crews on Saturday, as Harvard's varsity, J.V. and freshmen murdered them by convincing margins of at least a length.
The Crimson varsity eight continued their splendid tradition of beating successively better crews by successively bigger margins as they thrashed Penn by 9.7 seconds, to recapture the Adams Cup that Penn wrestled from them on the Charles last year.
Into a Lead
As Harvard broke even with Penn at the beginning of the staggered start, Navy, never a factor in the race, immediately fell back. Settling their cadence down from a 43 to a 36, the Crimson edged one or two seats in front of the Quakers by the end of 500.
With a power ten under the bridge marking the bend in the river at 700 meters, Harvard broke the race open. They continued running at a fearsome pace as Penn, in the words of Crimson cox Jeff Rothstein, "ran out of gas."
After opening up a length-long lead, the Crimson continued to move away from Penn and Navy for the rest of the race. Harvard finished with a time of 6:01.4, 9.3 seconds in front of the Quakers and 12.2 seconds ahead of the Midshipmen.
Cox Rothstein, who barked instructions to the rowers despite an oncoming bug, expressed his delight with the varsity's performance yesterday. "We rowed the entire race like we rowed the second half of last weekend against Princeton. We were awesome."
Next weekend Harvard journeys to Worcester for the Eastern Sprints on Quinsigamond Lake. Not surprisingly, the varsity will be seeded first with Yale--which edged Penn by eight-tenths of a second last weekend--probably ranked second.
Crews from Wisconsin, Cornell and Dartmouth will also be there, but their records suggest that only strange conditions could push them in front of the Crimson.
"I think I feel relatively confident," Rothstein said yesterday. "Quinsigamond is a weird lake--there can be a head wind in the middle where the top seeds are, while the rest is flat, calm water. In equal conditions we're going to be hard to beat. We're psyched, and we're still getting faster--I think."
The Crimson second varsity and freshman boats also earned themselves top seeding in Worcester next weekend by swamping their Navy and Penn counterparts on Saturday. The J.V.'s had almost a length of open water over Penn when they crossed the line, and the freshman eight had a similar margin.
It may well be that after the sprints next weekend Harvard's foes will band together to have the Crimson locked away. Their crime: another year of capital crimes committed weekly on the water.