Racing offers a special simplicity. There are no complex rules, no X's and O's, no referees, no excuses. And for that matter, there is no where to hide.
The Radcliffe heavyweight crew faced an embarrassing loss to Brown this weekend, while the Radcliffe lightweight crew decisively defeated Boston College and Amherst.
The heavyweight eight suffered a demoralizing 19 second loss to Brown, finishing the 2000-meter course in 7:11.3. The lightweight four finished the course in 8:09, 17 seconds in front of Boston College and 1:01 ahead of Amherst.
The losing margin in the heavyweight race was so extreme that racers referred to be being in another time zone.
"It was a shock to all of us," senior captain Sara Simmons said. "If we didn't win, we certainly didn't think we'd be that far off. When the race was over, we were all dumbfounded."
Although the crews were even at the beginning of the race, Brown took off on the Black and White at the 500-meter point.
"We settled and sank," Simmons said. "We settled and never really got into a groove. Once you've settled into a bad rhythm like that taking the stroke rate up doesn't really matter. You're just spinning your wheels."
After the 500-meter mark, Brown simply settled and moved. The Bears gradually increased their lead with every stroke.
"The whole week [prior to the meet] was characterized by the whole boat not really being tuned in to each other," Simmons said. "So, when they moved away from us we panicked and shortened up."
Despite the poor performance, the Black and White was determined to make the loss a lesson and motivation for the future.
"A good crew takes away things from both a good and a bad race," Simmons said. "What we learned is that we row really poorly when we don't row efficiently."
"We were disappointed, but we knew it wasn't our best performance." junior stroke Laura Brookins said. "We know we have a lot more speed in us. If it had been our best performance, it would have been a much different race."
While the heavyweight crew was left to ask "What if?", the lightweight four was happily recounting what was. The lightweight's 17 second victory over rival Boston College was the highlight of the day.
"It was a really big win because they [Boston College] finished right behind us at Head of the Charles this fall," junior Sophie Bryan said. "They are a really competitive crew."
Although the Black and White got off to a rocky start, the boat was able to get together quickly, extending its lead with big power moves at the 750- and 1250-meter marks of the 2000-meter race.
"We kept moving out on the other boats even though we already had a substantial margin on them," Bryan said.
According to the crew, the victory was especially sweet because the coaches have been experimenting with different boat combinations.
"We've been trying out a bunch of new line-ups and we're really psyched that this one worked," sophomore Liz Yellen said. "All four of us feel we have a lot of potential. I think this race was a good first step for the rest of our season."