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After countless days on the Charles during both the fall and winter seasons, the Harvard and Radcliffe crews embarked on the spring racing season at the San Diego Crew Classic this weekend.
Although it is very early in the season and this race is used mostly to get an idea of where the crews stand in relation to their competitors, the women's lightweights made their mark with a first place finish in the finals. The men's lightweights finished second, the women's heavyweights fourth and the men's heavy-weights fifth.
As defending national champions, the women's varsity lightweight eight--finishing with a winning time of 6:56.80--did not go into the race thinking it would be a sure win. Radcliffe did not know what to expect from the other crews--especially since Princeton just started a women's lightweight program this year.
Drawing from women who had previously been competing for the heavyweight team, Princeton's lightweight boat showed that it will be a strong competitor this season, finishing second with a time of 6:59.16.
"We knew we could do this well but we hadn't raced Princeton before," said coxswain and lightweight captain Catherine Malone.
The boat, with all but two of the same people as last year's boat, will be racing against Princeton again this weekend at Cornell and is only looking to improve.
"It's still early in the spring and our boat will only be getting faster," junior Carlin Senter said.
The men's lightweight team had a strong second place finish to Yale this past weekend. The race went as expected with the team exactly where it was last year at this time.
Considering the boat finished first at both Eastern Sprints and Nationals last year, the crew is definitely on the right track.
"Our team is based on improving from race to race. We like being the underdogs and coming from behind," said lightweight captain Jonathan Kibera.
The boat was set only five days before the race, leaving plenty of room for the boat to improve as a whole. The varsity boat hopes to focus more on racing aggressively and fine tuning its starts.
This weekend, the varsity crew will be racing Cornell and Penn in Ithaca.
The men's varsity heavyweight eight raced against eleven other crews for the Copley Cup in San Diego. The boat's fifth-place finish in the finals behind Washington, Cal-Berkeley, Yale and Penn was disappointing but the team is a strong one with much potential.
The boat, stroked by junior Daniel Dias, raced well on Saturday in the heats. The crew came in second, only three seconds behind Cal-Berkeley.
"We were happy with our row in the heat and were confident going into the finals," junior Henry Nuzum said. "The start was not good, and we didn't ever gain our rhythm."
Returning yesterday morning at 6 a.m., the crew was back on the river in the afternoon with two practices scheduled for today.
The boat will be racing at Brown this weekend and at home against Princeton next weekend. The crew hopes to have more time to practice together as a boat.
"We've had some really fast practices and know we can do the same at races," Nuzum said.
"There are four guys in the boat sub-six minutes for the 2000-meter erg," senior Shahm Al Wir added.
The women's heavyweight crew viewed the San Diego race as a way to see where it was compared to the other crews. The varsity boat came in second in the heats behind Michigan and fourth in the finals behind Washington, Michigan and Northeastern. The team has been improving a great deal recently.
"We have a lot more depth this year," senior Anne Lesburg said. "At NCAA's last year, Washington appeared to be a huge powerhouse, but this year its crew seems to be within our reach."
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