The city of San Diego.
For most, it conjures up images of sunny skies and Seaworld. It is a Southern California city free of the pretensions of the shady O.J. Simpson and Darryl Strawberry types that thrive in the City of Angels.
For the Harvard heavyweight and lightweight crews, San Diego conjures up images of the season's beginning--the first time to test themselves after a long winter in the tanks. Both crews kick off the 1995 season at the San Diego Classic April 1 and 2.
As is usually the case with developing teams in the preseason, question marks abound. While a nucleus of talented and experienced rowers remains, graduation has ravaged both crews.
The heavyweights handed out 16 varsity letters for the 1994 season, but only three oarsmen and a coxswain are returning. The 1994 lightweights had 15 lettermen, but this year's crew sees the return of only two oarsmen and a cox.
Bow Scott Henderson, two-man Nick Peterson and five-man Oliver Rando will be core of the heavyweights, while Todd Kristol will lend his services at coxswain for the third straight year.
Senior captain Elijah White and classmates Jon Gibbons, Ben Hochberg and Chris Dewing figure strongly in the seat racing. Junior Alex Blake may be the final piece in the heavyweight puzzle, while sophomores Mike Linse, Doug Goodman and Charles Ruch are intent on making Blake check his shoulder.
"We are a very young squad this year," White said. "We have a lot of sophomores. Only three of our people rowed varsity last year. But we're not inexperienced. A lot of us have done a lot of quality rowing in the past."
"We have had some fierce seat racing over the course of the last 10 days. We've had some stiff intrasquad competition for positions," he said.
The heavyweights are coming off a frustrating year. The 1994 spring season can only be labeled as disappointing, and the crew's showing this fall was decent but unspectacular.
The Crimson did have some impressive results during last year's campaign, however. The oarsmen edged Washington by two seconds at the San Diego Classic, fulfilled one of the 10 Commandments of Harvard Sports by thrashing MIT (along with Princeton) and dumped Yale for the 10th straight year.
During the fall, the heavyweights placed third out of collegiate crews--behind Brown and Princeton--in the Head of the Charles Regatta. The Crimson also won a race over the dreaded Elis in a Christmas break junket to Hawaii.
"We've seen that this squad is capable of fielding a fast crew determined to race hard," White said.
While White and company are clearly talented and enthusiastic about their prospects for the season, that squad from a small liberal arts school in Providence, R.I. is again the primary threat.
When a typical Harvard student contemplates Brown and crew, he or she pictures the color of the Charles River. When a Harvard heavyweight male oarsman contemplates Brown and crew, he pictures the previous two seasons of collegiate crew.