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Shakespeare would have laughed. Charlie Chaplin and the Keystone Cops would have appreciated it. The Three Stooges probably would have put it in a movie if they had seen it.
After watching their opponent's shell crash into a sailboat and send two sailors sprawling into the Charles, the Radcliffe lightweight crew survived a strong tailwind, sleet, an abbreviated course, a busted rigger and numbing cold only to lose narrowly to the UNH heavyweight varsity Saturday morning.
The lights were not even scheduled to row against UNH; but Syracuse cancelled out at the last moment to force a rescheduling with the heavier Wildcat squad.
The race started ominously enough for the lights, as six-seat Kristen Laine caught a crab 100 meters into the course. Coach Peter Huntsman immediately called the race back to the start, but the damage had already been done, as Laine's rigger bent under the pressure.
"I didn't realize my rigger was bent until after the race," Laine said yesterday. "My oar kept slicing into the water on the shaft, and I just thought I was having a bad day."
After watching the UNH boat perform its imitation of the Greek fleet at Salamis, the race was begun a third time, this time 500 meters from the original starting position, thus cutting the course to 1100 meters.
Despite catching the Wildcats' boat at the halfway point of the new course with a power-ten call from cox Susie Peterson, the women in black were unable to keep up with the UNH shell, partly because of the imbalance the bent rigger created.
The Wildcats were able to stay ahead as the lights made repeated attempts to catch up. Radcliffe fell apart 20 strokes from the end and lost by 2.4 seconds.
"It wasn't a bad race, after all," Laine concluded. "Considering that they were bigger and we had the busted rigger, we would have blown them out under normal conditions."
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