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The Harvard men's lightweight crew finished in the top eight crews at the Henley Royal Regatta in England late last month and early this month, out of a field of 48.
The Henley, one of the world's oldest, most famous and most competitive regattas, gave the Harvard lightweights their first taste of international competition.
"It was very competitive," Charles Butt, coach of the men's lightweight crew, said in an interview. "We were eliminated in the quarterfinals, [but] we raced well."
Harvard lost to the Nottinghamshire County Rowing Association with a time of 6:15, Butt said. Nottinghamshire finished the course in 6:14.
The five-day regatta featured single-elimination races between international collegiate and club-level crews. Each participating team qualified for the competition by winning their respective divisions.
Butt said the team was excited by their performance, although they wished they could have finished in a higher position.
"We were close enough that the feeling was that with a better effort, perhaps we would have beat them," he said. "On the other hand, we were happy to have made the final eight crews."
Butt also noted that competing against heavyweight teams affected the team's performance in the regatta. "Whenever you give up 30 pounds to the other team, it's going to be tough," he said.
Not since 1971 has any lightweight crew won the Henley regatta, and "the competitive landscape is growing ever more competitive," Butt said.
The Harvard crew was also not rowing with its usual cast. Two days before the regatta, the team lost rower John S. Burkhart '95 to mononucleosis, and Burkhart was unable to compete.
The team had not brought any alternates on the trip, however, and Burkhart was replaced by John F. Hammond '94, a former team member, who is presently teaching in England and was competing in another event at the regatta, Butt said.
Butt said there was no way to tell if Harvard would send either a lightweight or heavyweight crew to the regatta next summer. "Our participation depends on winning either the Eastern Sprints Championship or the [Intercollegiate Rowing] Championship," he said.
The lightweight crew won both events this year, finishing ahead of Princeton, the favorite for winning this year's Sprints. Harvard also beat Yale (ranked second after Princeton going into the national competition), Cornell, Navy and Holy Cross.
However, "one always has their hopes," Butt said.
The last school to win both sprints and the Intercollegiate Rowing Championship--generally regarded as the lightweight national championship--was Harvard in 1991.
In addition, one Harvard rower, Matthew B. Emans '96, finished in the top five in the world at the CRASH-B sprints. The CRASH-B, held in Cambridge every year, is a 2500-meter individual race on the ergometer, a rowing simulation machine.
Those participating in the lightweight crew's successful performance at the Henley include coxswain and captain Christopher J. Shulte '95, stroke Emans and other rowers Hammond, Ryan S. Wise '97, Andrew R. Wilson '96, Gregory M. Ruckman '96, Timothy M. Cullen '96, Field Ogden '95 and Edward A. Shergalis '97.
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