You never get to see Harvard men and women tear up the gridiron together. Nor do you see them on the field hockey field, assisting each other to score goals. But you can see such a sight on the romantic Charles River.
The Harvard sailing team has the unique attraction of fielding the only coed varsity squad in the University.
"I joined the team because it was coed and it gave me a chance to meet a lot of people," said senior Liz Graham, who is now crewing in the A-division.
This apparent social event is actually another one of Harvard's successful athletic teams. All-American Jim Bowers, team captain and skipper of the first boat for the coed team, expects the squad to be ranked in the top 15 in the nation, after having dropped out of the rankings last season.
"This year we are looking much stronger and have been performing well against top teams from all around the country," Bowers said. "We feel that we have what it takes this year."
In its first intersectional, the Harry Anderson Regatta at Yale, the coed team finished a strong fourth, behind Brown, the top team in the country.
Three weeks ago, in the Nevins Trophy race, competing against many of the national powerhouses, Harvard's A-division and B-division boats finished a combined sixth. Most recently, Harvard placed sixth and third in New England in an intersectional meet at the Coast Guard, which was won by Old Dominion, the defending national champion.
Harvard Coach Mike Horn uttered nothing but praise about his All-American senior skipper.
"Last year Jim posted the most consistent record in the country, never finishing below seventh in any regatta," Horn said. "This year he is only going to be sailing better."
Horn explained that the challenge now is to field a strong second boat to sail for the rest of the season. Since most of the regattas have two divisions, the performance of the second boat is just as critical in the overall standings.
Junior John Dickson has been the strongest sailor in the B-division in the past weeks. However, due to the variable factors in sailing, the pairing for the second boat is determined on a weekly basis.
"The problem last year was finding support in the second division," Horn said. "It looks like this year we may have just found the support we have been looking for."
Horn's hopes may have been answered with the arrival of a strong freshman class. Although many of them have little experience, they are quickly making their presence felt.
"About 30 freshmen are currently on the team, compared to an entire team of only 30 last year," Bowers said. "A lot of youth and enthusiasm around the team is making it really exciting."
Having only lost one senior from last year, there is no reason to think that this success will not continue throughout the season. Graham, who sailed for the women's team last year, is adjusting well to her new spot with Bowers for the A-division.
The women's sailing team, which practices together with the coed squad, also expects a promising year. Led by junior Captain Caitlin Murray, the team sailed to an eighth place finish in the Navy Fall Women's Intersectional this past weekend, competing against the best teams in the country. As a result of that performance, Murray expects the women's team to be in the top 10 when this year's first rankings are released.
The influence of the freshmen is being felt the most on the women's team. Freshman Julie Caldwell has already advanced to the A-boat, having sailed along with Murray last week.