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A calm day on the Charles River set the stage for the largest two-day regatta in the world--the Head of the Charles.
The Harvard and Radcliffe crew teams fielded a total of 12 boats in the heavyweight, lightweight, youth and club races.
And while the varsity crews failed to place higher than ninth against a strong field, the races were a successful tune-up for the rest of the fall season.
Harvard crossed the finish line at 15:47.62, good for 13th place. The boat finished behind college rivals Princeton and Yale, who finished sixth and eighth respectively. Brown finished fourth.
"It was okay," captain Neil W. Holzapfel '00 said after the race, "[but] it wasn't great."
It was difficult for the Crimson to know exactly how it was doing because the race was staggered.
"It looked like they were having a good row," Coach Harry Parker said. "It looked reasonably close between Yale and Princeton."
Harvard also fielded a boat in the heavyweight fours.
Parker said the heavyweight fours "seemed reasonably pleased with their race" after finishing the course in sixth place with a time of 17:16.11.
On Saturday, Harvard's boat in the club eight event placed first with a time of 16:20.80.
But with the championship season in the spring, Harvard isn't fretting over Sunday's mixed results.
"The good news is that we have lots of time," Holzapfel said. "Our important race comes in June. We've just got to collectively go for it in the spring."
Though they "rowed pretty hard," according to head coach Charlie Butt, the crew was saddled with a penalty for clashing oars with another crew on the river.
The penalty added one minute to Harvard's time, dropping the boat from a potential fifth-place finish to 18th place, below Harvard's second varsity boat, which placed 17th in 16:28.72 under the moniker of the "Charles River Rowing Association."
"Both crews were clearly behind Yale," Butt said. "The [first varsity] boat fell apart in the last half. Yale appeared to be faster throughout the course. We've got to get faster."
Looking to the spring, Butt added that "we have time to respond, but Yale is clearly setting the standard."
Finishing 17th with a time of 18:03.13, Radcliffe trailed rivals Michigan, the University of Virginia (UVA) and Brown by over 50 seconds.
"We could've gone faster," captain Anne D. Browning '00 said. "We were racing a different shell from [the Vespoli shell] earlier in the week. The shell we raced today was for a 2000 meter [straight] course, which made it difficult to hit the turns [on the Charles]."
The turns made it difficult for Radcliffe to gain ground on its competitors.
"We had some solid pieces where we were holding Princeton, [but] we were unable to catch them on the turns," Browning said.
Radcliffe has one more major race for the fall season, the Foot of the Charles in November.
"[The Foot] will be good to look forward to," Browing said. "It will be a good challenge for us to push through the fall and winter."
Radcliffe's second varsity boat dropped to 50th after a collision with Boston University at Weeks Footbridge. The boat was penalized a minute for the incident, leaving Radcliffe with a time of 19:16.31 for the course.
The women's heavyweights will be chasing down Princeton, Brown, UVA and Michigan as the spring season approaches, and racing goes into full swing.
Radcliffe head coach Liz O'Leary could not be reached for comment. She was out on the river racing in the Championship Eight race against her own Radcliffe rowers. O'Leary placed 20th in a boat comprised of the members of the 1980 women's Olympic team.
"They are a young crew, so my desire is for them to row and race well," Coach Ed Kloman said. "Our goal was to work on our technique so we are at a place to race competitively in the spring."
"It was an aggressive first mile, and we really put in a good fight," coxswain Nancy M. B. Poon '01 said. "We're working hard, and we have a lot to look forward to this year."
The Radcliffe lightweights must catch up to a fast Princeton crew who marched down the course in 17:51.43, crossing the finish line a full minute before Radcliffe.
Both teams also look forward to the contributions of their novice members. Both Harvard and Radcliffe first novice crews won the youth eight event, which pitted the top under-19 boats of rival colleges and high schools around the nation.
"We are very pleased by [the youth eight win]," said Harvard coach Harry Parker.
Though the results on Sunday were not ideal for the varsity boats, the future looks bright for Radcliffe and Harvard crew teams.
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