In the wee hours of Saturday morning, two of the three of Eastern heavyweight crew--Harvard and Navy--sat steadily on the glassy surface of the Severn River in Annapolis, poised for the start of their long-awaited showdown. Less than six minutes later, Navy was vanquished, and only Yale remained between the Crimson and uncontested rowing supremacy this side of the Mississippi.
The top-fight heavy weight crews in the East gather each year for a senes of casual late-season regattas such as Saturday's Adams Cup. Harvard's narrow, one-second victory (5.55.6) over Navy and a much slower Penn boat this weekend, leaves them alone with undefeated Yale as the favorites for the Eastern sports Later this month.
But Saturday's victory did not come easily. The Midshipmen, who had been ranked first in the East before the race, held a lead through 1500 meters despite a very high, early Crimson stroke count.
"We took a whole to get comfortable," coxswain Dan Simon said yesterday. "We started out at a very far 44 count, then dropped down to 38 before we finally settled in at 36."
The Crimson accelerated dramatically with less than half of the race left to surge past the Midshipmen in the last 500 meters and win by a length, taking the Adams Cup for the 30th time in its 48-year history.
"Navy knows their course real well, and they usually make a big move at their bridge with about 800 to go," explained Simon Coach Parker anticipated that, and we made a move about 15 strokes before them."
The victory leaves the Crimson virtually assured of a number-two ranking for the EARC sprints May 16 Yale will probably emerge after a coaches vote tomorrow ranked number one because of an impressive showing in the San Diego classic April 4 where the Elis beat Harvard by seven seconds.
Meanwhile, on the Derby River in Connecticut Saturday. Harvard's highly touted varsity lightweight dueled Yale and Princeton in a meeting of the "Big Three" of lightweight crew. And it was everything the "HYP" race should be--lightning fast, bitterly close, with just a touch of controversy.
"There are buoys meant to keep us in lanes going around a turn," coxswain Greg Soghtkian said yesterday. "The umpire tod me that our buoy was a little row boat I thought I was supposed to go outside of it and I went inside so he started yelling as us that we are going around a turn," at us that we are going off course and that unsettled me and the rest of the boat."
Coming out of the turn with only 600 meters to go, Harvard was half a length down to both Yale and Princeton.
"We were rowing at too high a cadence, we didn't have any rhythm," Soghikian said. "But finally we got ourselves together and pulled even with Yale."
Nip and Tuck
From then on. Harvard lost and regained the lead several times, pulling ahead on its catch and falling behind on its recovery, and finally losing by two feet and half a second to Yale (5:32.0) in what coach Burch Beall could only describe as "one heck of a race."
The "HYP" has always been considered a foot-proof predictor of the upcoming Eastern sprints. Only once in the last 14 years has the "HYP" champ failed to take the sprints. But this year, Soghikian said. Yale will have something to think about: "Half a second doesn't mean anything I'm still pretty confident."
In other action yesterday, both the heavyweight and lightweight freshmen boats won in well-rowed races, while the heavyweight and lightweight J.V. boats lost. The performance of these boats become more important where J.V. and freshman results are counted in the Eastern sprints.