It is said that the road to any national championship is filled with many obstacles.
The Radcliffe varsity crews, stroking in the national championship held over the weekend in Corning, N.Y., ran into a few natural obstacles-raging headwinds and waves, which resulted in a delay of the national championship race itself.
As a result, a hastily--scrambled Radcliffe lightweight eight crew finished second to a similarly rebuilt Princeton boat. Usually, the Black and White sends a lightweight four. But Princeton and Cincinnati, who each snagged medals along with Radcliffe in the Easterns in lightweight fours, decided to send a lightweight eight. Radcliffe followed suit.
In the big race--the varsity heavyweight eights--the Black and White finished fourth. But the racing itself did not tell the entire story of the regatta. It was Mother Nature.
"When we got there it was really awful," said Karen Weltchek.
High winds made for very choppy water and great difficulty lining up the racing shells on the stake-boats at the starting line. Race organizers decided not to mess with Mother Nature, and deemed the course to be unrowable for the two days the heats and finals were supposed to be have been held.
Even when competition commenced late Sunday evening, the race was shortened to 1000 meters. "We had a floating start," said sophomore Martha Welch. "People kept trying to get the boats straight. We actually raced about 900 meters."
The Radcliffe lightweights raced on this short--and still very choppy--course. The Black and White finished second behind Princeton. "All you do is start and sprint," Welch said.
The Black and White lightweights, however, did finish ahead of Cincinnati, a crew which had defeated them at last month's Eastern Sprints.
"You really couldn't tell [who was the best] from this sort of race," Weltchek said.
Meanwhile, the Radcliffe heavy-weights were waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
While race organizers were deciding whether or not to row the heavies on Sunday, the Black and White rowers were, according to Weltchek, nibbling on graham crackers and were waiting for some kind of word on when they were rowing.
"We were in the van, ready to go and race when the coach came running down the driveway saying the race was delayed," Weltchek said.
It wasn't until 6:00 a.m. on Monday when the heavies got to race. "By then, it was an anticlimax," Weltchek said.
Radcliffe finished behind Pac-10 Champion Washington, Yale and Eastern Champion Brown.
"We didn't handle the stress of waiting like everyone else and we ended up spinning our wheels," Weltchek says. "It was disappointing for us."
THE NOTEBOOK: Several Radcliffe rowers are trying out for the Olympics. Present oarswomen Juliet Thompson and twin sisters Betsy and Mary McCagg will be in Indianapolis this week, seeking spots on the U.S. Olympic team...Former Radcliffe crew women Serena Eddy and Allison Townley will also be stroking for a chance to go to Seoul for the United States...Heavyweight bowman Jillian Buriak will try to make the Canadian Olympic team as a rower. Buriak, a sophomore, was a nationally-ranked kayaker until she joined the Radcliffe crew. She had a good chance to go to Korea as a kayaker until she decided to focus on crew...The Radcliffe heavies finish the year at 6-2 overall, 2-1 Ivy league.