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Head of the Charles weekend--it conjures up images of beautiful fall weather, of a boat-littered Charles and of an insanely crowded Harvard Square.
To New England, and indeed to much of the rowing world, the regatta is unparalleled in grandeur and significance. But to the Harvard and Radcliffe crews, the Head of the Charles often serves as little more than a warm-up exercise for winter training and the spring season.
Although the 1995 regatta proved no exception to this rule, both the mens' and womens' crews turned in some outstanding performances.
Harvard's heavyweight team was pleased with its finish in the Championship Four division, as it placed second, behind only McGill University--a Canadian powerhouse featuring several national team oarsmen. Harvard overpowered the other college crews, including a strong Yale squad.
"It would have been nice to win, but it felt great to beat Yale and head toward winter workouts with some good momentum," senior John Gibbons said.
The other Harvard heavyweight boats finished a respectable 15th and 16th in the Championship Eights division. Although the Crimson was bested by several rivals, including Princeton and Yale, the boats rowed well on the whole.
Radcliffe's top Championship Eights entry encountered a similar fate, as it pulled to a 10th-place finish behind Brown and Princeton, among others.
The mens' and womens' lightweight crews fared even better in the afternoon's races.
Harvard managed a seventh-place finish in the Lightweight Eights division, nipping at the heels of third-place Princeton and fifth-place Yale.
"We rowed an aggressive race, and though we were a little bit disappointed with what we saw on the clock, it gave us something to work from," lightweight captain Matt Emans said.
Radcliffe's lightweights were especially impressive, cruising to a decisive victory in the Eights category. Although they were beaten by five club crews, Radcliffe bested its closest collegiate competitor by over one minute (an eternity in rowing terms).
"We rowed strong from start to finish," junior Liz Yellen said, "and our results seem to indicate that this years' program will be strong throughout."
Indeed, both the Harvard and Radcliffe crews seem to be stacked with talent this year. Each program's underclassmen posted top finishes in the regatta's Youth divisions, signifying that even more firepower is on the way.
But these articles don't pretend as if their harder work is behind them. As legendary Harvard heavyweight coach Harry Parker was quick to point out, the fall rowing season is known more for fun than for the kind of seriousness that surfaces in the spring.
Quite simply, said the 34-year coaching veteran. "Everyone had fun."
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