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Heavyweight Oarsmen Easily Grab First in Potomac Regatta

By Rik Geiersbach

The first annual Potomac Regatta promised to be a showcase for some of the world's best collegiate crews, but the Harvard heavyweight crew spoiled the party.

Racing three times this weekend on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., Coach Harry Parker's eight continued its domination of the heavyweight circuit by routing the international field.

On paper, the regatta looked to be exciting, attracting such notables as Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton, UCLA and Wisconsin to take on defending national champion Harvard. However, the powerful Crimson easily swept through the field in both heats and in the finals, winning by more than a full boat length each time.

Saturday morning's heat saw the Crimson battling rivals Princeton and MIT in the traditional race for the Compton Cup. The Crimson opened the race with a four-seat lead at the 500-meter mark and continued to move through the second-place Tigers until the Crimson had established open water by the 1000-meter mark.

Rowing downstream into a slight cross-headwind, the Crimson decided to forego the sprint and conserve energy for Sunday's races, realizing the Compton Cup was safely in hand. The Crimson finished Saturday's race a solid length-and-a-half ahead of Princeton, with a hapless MIT trailing somewhere in Harvard's wake.

Despite the low cadence at the end of the race, the Crimson turned in the fastest time of the day, six seconds quicker than the nearest competitor.

Advancing to the semifinals on Sunday morning, Harvard raced a Wisconsin crew it had already defeated in San Diego two weeks ago, Oxford and Cambridge--who were fresh off of the annual running of the Boat Race.

The semis also proved to be an easy Harvard victory as stroke Jon Bernstein brought the Crimson past the finish line at a leisurely 31 strokes-per-minute. In that race, the heavies jumped out to an uncharacteristic lead on the field.

"We're fired up for the starts," senior Keir Pearson said. "The leads we're establishing are encouraging and we're able to move out further from there."

By the 500-meter mark, Harvard had moved to open water on Wisconsin and had left the British crews wondering why they made the trip, with the Crimson never looking back.

In the other semis, UCLA zipped past Princeton to win by a length. UCLA turned in the fastest time of the morning, setting up a rematch of the San Diego finals.

However, the most exciting part of the finals was the verbal battle of the coxswains while the Crimson rowers pulled away in their typical fashion. At the 600-meter mark, with the Crimson in the lead by two seats, the UCLA coxswain tried to tell his crew that Harvard was not moving. Harvard coxswain Travis "Napo" Metz responded to UCLA's taunt with a hearty shout of "Yes we are!"

"We broke them there," Bernstein remarked.

After Metz's boast, the Crimson oarsmen responded with tens that left the heavies a full length ahead of UCLA at the 1300-meter mark. The race cadence of 36 strokes-per-minute was bumped up for the sprint while the Crimson crossed the line at 41, leaving second-place UCLA over a length behind.

Back in Cambridge, the second varsity, third varsity and freshmen boats followed the varsity's lead by trouncing Princeton and MIT, leaving the Newell Boathouse undefeated for the second straight week.

THE NOTEBOOK: Next week, the Crimson will battle Penn and Navy in Philadelphia for the Adams Cup. Penn has been racing well this year, edging out Brown yesterday in the finals of the Redwood Shores Regatta in California. Navy is also traditionally strong in the running of the Adams Cup. The once-questionable Crimson is gaining confidence with every race and will be the favorite next week on the Schuykill River.

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