Women's Crew Struggles on Opening Weekend

No. 20 heavyweights lose all five races against Brown at home on Saturday

Ming E. Vandenberg

Brown swept all five races from the Black and White on Saturday, including the third varsity B race in which Brown's "C" boat outpaced both Radcliffe "B" and Radcliffe "C" (pictured) for the victory.

The Radcliffe lightweight and heavyweight crews began their campaigns this weekend to return to the top of the women’s ranks.

Facing last year’s national runner-up Georgetown and an undefeated No. 3-ranked Brown squad, both crews had opportunities to reassert their claims as one of the best.

Unfortunately for the Black and White, both teams fell just short.

While dominating three of four races at the Class of 2004 Cup in Washington D.C., the lightweights failed to take the most important one—the first varsity heat—and, as a result, failed to retain the cup for the first time in the race’s three-year history.

On the Charles River on Saturday, the No. 20 Radcliffe heavyweights lost all five of their races against the Brown Bears, who improved to 3-0 on its young season.


For the first half of the Black and White lightweights’ first varsity heat Saturday, it appeared that the squad would make a clean sweep of its rival Georgetown Hoyas.

But the Hoyas charged down the stretch, making up a half a boat length over the final 1,000 meters to barely edge Radcliffe. The Georgetown first varsity eight posted a time of 6:48.7 to defeat the Black and White by less than a second.

The lightweights relinquished their hold on the Class of 2004 Cup for the first time in the race’s history.

But despite this failure on the Potomac River, the squad did notch dominating victories in each of the other three races. Highlighted by an astonishing 24-second win for the second varsity eight, the squad believes that it is still on the right track.

“Given how early it is in the season, this is a good place to work off of,” senior captain Jennifer Chung said. “It’s not something to be satisfied with—we want to keep building from here—but it’s a good start.”

The team is not satisfied because there is still more speed to be found. The crew has only been on the water for two weeks. Therefore, it will look to improve as it gains more and more time on the river.

The squad will do anything it can to continue to progress.

“There’s a lot to be changed in the weeks to come,” Chung said. “At this point, there is a lot of excitement but there is also a lot of room for flexibility and switching around lineups.”


Home was not so sweet for the Black and White on Saturday.

Despite holding the Charles River advantage against No. 3 Brown, the crew could not capitalize and dropped all five races against its Ivy rival.

But all was not wrong for Radcliffe, as the two best efforts on the day came from its two top teams. The first varsity eight only lost by 3.5 seconds, and the second varsity eight, after surging to a lead with an aggressive start, fell short by just three ticks.

“None of us are happy with the loss, but this is just a step in the process of working to get better,” junior Ester Lofgren said. “3.5 seconds is a gap we can find in the coming weeks.”

The crew will look for this extra speed as it gains more and more experience on the open water.

“We’ve only been on the water together for two weeks,” Lofgren said.

“Every time we get on the water we’re finding more speed, better strokes,” she added. “We will just be finding it as we go.”

—Staff writer Walter E. Howell can be reached at