The Harvard freshmen crew coasted to the quarterfinals of the Temple Cup, before falling to the eventual champion, the Netherlands’ Nereus, by two lengths.
The Crimson opened up the 32-crew head-to-head tournament last Wednesday against England’s Royal Military Academy. Harvard set off at a blistering pace, posting the second fastest time at the Barrier checkpoint, passing the spot in 1:56.
Harvard never let off the throttle, passing the Fawley point in 3:17, tied for the second fastest opening-round time. The Crimson maintained the pace to the finish, as it finished in a time of 7:05, a full two-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of the Royal Military Academy.
Harvard drew Rhode Island—a four-and-one-half length winner over Exeter University—in the round of 16 the following day. The Crimson backed off its torrid first-round pace, passing the Barrier and Fawley spots in 2:00 and 3:20 respectively.
But Harvard closed strong, finishing in 7:03—two seconds faster than its opening-round time—and knocking off the opposing crew by two lengths.
Friday presented the first real challenge of the tournament, as the Crimson drew the Netherlands’ Nereus crew in the quarterfinals. The Crimson fell behind early and never could make up the ground, as the Netherlands’ crew finished in a time of 7:04 with Harvard two full lengths behind. But it wasn’t as if the Crimson ever had a fair shot at advancing.
Less than 20 strokes into the race, freshman bow Mike Harrington’s equipment malfunctioned, and, unable to fix the problem, he was forced to jump ship.
Competing with its seven remaining rowers, the Crimson stood little chance, losing by the wide margin.
With Harvard out of the Temple Cup tournament, the lone American crew remaining was from the U.S. Naval Academy. The Midshipmen advanced to the semis after posting a 6:56 finish and a two-thirds of a length victory over the National University of Ireland in the quarterfinals.
Entering the semifinal round on Saturday, the U.S. Naval Academy had posted two of the top five fastest times of any Temple Cup crew. Its semifinal opponent—the Netherlands’ Proteus—had recorded the other three.
The Midshipmen held their own, however, holding the lead at the Barrier and Fawley points. But the Proteus crew would not be denied, finishing a length ahead of the Naval Academy in a time of 6:57—tied for its slowest finish of the tournament.
With the Nereus crew taking its semifinal race by a narrow one-quarter length margin, the stage was set for an all Netherlands final. Nereus charged out of the gate, taking the lead by the Barrier point and maintaining it for the duration of the race, as it finished in a time of 6:52—12 seconds faster than it finished in its quarterfinal defeat of Harvard.
The win served as redemption for the Nereus crew, which was eliminated in the semifinals last year by Princeton.
It also marked the first time that a non-American crew has won the Temple Cup since Cambridge University’s win in 1999, as well as the first time that a Netherlands’ crew has won in the 14-year history of the tournament. Coming into this year’s tournament, Harvard had won two out of the last three cups.
—Staff writer Michael R. James can be reached at email@example.com.