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Everyone knows about crew. Freshmen get attractive letters from boathouse legends introducing them to the exotic, muscle-bound world of the oarsperson. And any dining hall is sure to have a table full of crew jocks comparing ERG scores and tales of post-stadia nausea.
But quietly and unassumingly, the University's other river inhabitants--the sailors--trudge back and forth from the campus to 45 Memorial Dr., home of the Harvard Sailing Center and the mainstay of Crimson skippers.
Harvard's sailing program has a grand history, dating back to obscure origins around the turn of the century. But now, as a Level II varsity sport, Harvard sailing enjoys a number of fairly recent benefits.
Fifteen years ago, each time a handful of fanatic Crimson sailors wanted to ship out, they faced a trip to the MIT boathouse to launch their boats from floating docks. Now, at least, the Harvard skippers (350 to 400 of them) can use the Harvard Sailing Center's modern launching system.
The sailing center is the product of Harvard sailing history. It is the most significant and ambitious addition to the program--providing a campus anchor for the sport.
Mike Horn, the present coach of the men's and women's sailing teams here, has watched the Harvard sailing program grow in recent years. A 1963 Harvard graduate and former sailor, Horn said this week, "In 1963 we did everything by ourselves. By comparison things are pretty good today."
Harvard was once the top sailing college in the Ivy League, winning the very first Ivy League Championships in 1962, the New England team racing championships twice, the New England sloop championships for three consecutive years, and placing in the top three for three consecutive North American championships.
These were the days of Carter Ford and Mike Lehman, who tested and modified the Interclub dinghy, which now can be found in almost every college fleet; and George Oday '44, who became a well-known boat builder and sailed in the Olympic games.
These are the people who built Harvard sailing. As Horn said, "We have had excellent support from the alumni. They built the building, they bought the boats...They did everything."
One of the people instrumental in building the sailing center is Walter Evert, who has been with the club for more than 15 years. Now in semi-retirement, he remembers his time as director of sailing.
"I helped to design and build this place," he said recently, pointing to the boat storage area. This part of the boathouse contains Harvard's 40 boats, which hang from an aerial track system that snakes along the ceiling. The boats can be moved along the tracks and out over the water by one person. A power lift then can lower them into the water.
David Kantor, a junior and member of the sailing team, said, "The facilities here are as good as or better than almost anywhere else, and the boats are certainly better maintained." Chuck Rogers, a Business School student, agreed. "This place is really well run, the equipment is good, and they show you how everything works," he explained.
There are, however, some gripes on the waterfront.
"It would be nice to get rebates on room and board from the athletic department," Horn said. "Tufts and MIT do. They also get a travel allowance." Sailing team members, as participants in a Level II sport, must pay for all their expenses and must drive their own cars to the regattas held across New England and the country.
"Last year," Horn said, "Yale beat us out in the bidding for the Women's National championships because of the extra 'perks.' Their facilities are no better than ours, but they could provide free housing for all the competitors--something we just couldn't do."
Harvard's athletic department provides funding only for maintenance costs. Horn also recieves a salary for his work; but before 1973, he was supported solely by alumni contributions and club fees.
"Another thing," Horn said, "is the publicity. It would make a difference if we were given some recognition in sports schedules. We have 45 races during the season, an average of six races a week, and no one even hears about it."
Harvard's top sailors face a very demanding racing schedule. The quantity and quality of college racing has produced many fine sailors during the years, including 1978 graduate Laura Brown, who was named the outstanding woman athlete of 1978 by the Radcliffe Alumni Association. Russell Long, a 1977 graduate and former team member, will be skippering in a race to determine who will defend the America's Cup next year. Harvard has had four All-American sailors in the past five years and has more members of the Sailing Hall of Fame than any other college.
Some of this past glory now may be on its way back to Harvard. Crimson sailors already have qualified for this year's New England Sloop Championships by placing first in the elimination rounds two weeks ago. The team, skippered by Art Rousmaniere and crewed by Steve Strittmatter, George Bratt and Caris' Field, is favored to win the New Englands, a victory that would earn the boat a berth in the National Championships.
Last weekend, Steve Strittmatter, Art Rousmaniere and Brian Keane placed second in the Nevins Trophy on an aggregate score. They were defeated only by Navy, a team that had the highest overall college rating last year. Trailing Harvard in third place was King's Point, last year's North American Champions. In this series, Harvard tallied 10 firsts and 6 seconds in 33 races.
With some developing young talent, Harvard's future looks bright. Ethan Berkowitz, a promising freshman from San Francisco, skippered in the "470" National Championships, placed second in the "470" Pacific Coast Championships, and crewed in the Rhodes 19 Nationals for a third-place finish. Freshman Enrique Adsuan was at the helm of a Sunfish in the 1978 World Championships and crewed in Lightnings for his home country of Puerto Rico in the Pan-American Games. Finally Brian Keane, also a freshman, sailed a Laser in the National Sports Festival, where he picked up a silver and a bronze medal. He also won the North American Junior Championships in 1977 and finished second in the 1979 U.S. Laser Championships.
The women sailors also have contributed to Harvard's sailing glories in the past. They qualified for the women's National Dinghy Championships for nine consecutive years beginning in 1968. During this peak period the team won three consecutive national titles from 1968-1970 and took their latest in 1972.
The team this year is trying to maintain its position near the top of the college sailing heap. They placed second out of seven at the President's Trophy meet hosted and won by B.U. The next day they snatched third place amid a field of nine at the Captain's Cup behind host Tufts and the B.U. squad.
Harvard will host four major women's events this season. Today the team has home advantage against the other colleges in the New England Women's Intercollegiate Sailing Association (NEWISA) Invitational. The Victorian Coffee Urn will take place November 6 and 7 prior to the final NEWISA Invitational, which will be November 14. The last race hosted by the women's team is the Three-Crew Team Race, November 21.
This last race resembles a watery version of tag team wrestling as each boat tries to finish first while simultaneously blocking adversaries' boats to help out lagging teammates.
Since its formation in January of 1894, the Harvard Sailing Club has seen men like Franklin Delano Roosevelt '04 and John F. Kennedy '40 join its ranks. The glorious past has produced a promising future that threatens to make sailing at Harvard a well-known, more heralded part of the Crimson sports world.
The Harvard Sailing Center sits nestled between the Longfellow and Harvard bridges, at 45 Memorial Dr. Open to undergraduates, graduates, faculty and alumni, the facility, home of Harvard's sailing teams, attracts a steady clientele every afternoon.
The center's 20 interclub dinghies, 15 Lark sloops, and 5 Laser single-handers. Every beginner starts in the indestructible Interclubs, boats thoroughly tested for resiliency by generations of would-be Harvard sailors. The Lasers also are very tough but are more responsive to the elements and only can be sailed by one man. Finally, the hardest boat to sail, the Lark, has two sails and is Harvard's high-performance boat.
Prospective skippers must pay a $25 annual membership fee to join the Harvard sailing club and use its boats. New members are also required to pass the 100-yd. swimming test at the IAB and to attend a rigging demonstration, during which launching and beaching procedures are explained. All beginners also will be given an on-the-water demonstration, as well as a basic sailing lecture.
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