Crimson Overcomes Challenging Weather to Sweep Races

Rowers win, wear pink to support search for breast cancer cure

Meicheng Shi

The heavyweight rowers took all five of their races on the weekend to claim the Rowlands Cup, Allen-DeWolfe Trophy, and the Beanpot Title. Each squad also donned pink to support the Susan G. Komen foundation.

Sweeping all five races, the Radcliffe heavyweight crew claimed the Rowlands Cup, the Allen-DeWolfe Trophy, and the Beanpot Title by defeating Northeastern, Boston University, Boston College, and MIT over the course of last Saturday morning.

This was the 10th straight year the Black and White has dominated Northeastern for the Rowlands Cup, the second straight Allen-DeWolfe Trophy win in competition against BU, as well as the second straight year the Black and White has claimed Beanpot bragging rights.

In somewhat challenging conditions, the first varsity fought hard to pull away from second-place Northeastern in the final 500 meters. Eventually claiming a 7.4-second win with a time of 6:24, the Radcliffe crew had qutie a bit to celebrate.

“It was a great race in not really great conditions—there was a huge tailwind, and it’s often difficult to separate yourself from other crews in that situation,” junior captain Liz Demers said.

“We knew that Northeastern was having a very good season,” Demers added. “In comparable races we were about two to three seconds apart from each other, so we knew they’d be really fast.”

BU pulled in another 7.3 seconds after Northeastern, BC followed 18.2 seconds later, and MIT chugged across 8.3 seconds after that.

“Coming off the line, they stayed right with us,” Demers said. “Our coxswain kept us calm through the first 1000 meters, then we took our normal move and bumped the stroke rating up. It was a little more rough, but we handled the water really well. We kept it together and we just started moving really well and moved away from Northeastern.”

In the third varsity four A, BU gave the Black and White a run for its money. Radcliffe squeaked out a .8-second margin at the finish with a winning time of 7:32.2.

“It was a really great weekend,” junior Kate Burmaster said. “It was a tough race—it was really close and it came down to .8 seconds. It was a hard fought race, and we were happy to pull it out in the end. We started out pretty fast, and we were ahead from the beginning, and we pushed through MIT and Northeastern pretty early and BU hung with us for most of the race.”

The Radcliffe program showed leadership on the waves and in the community, as the crew proudly wore pink shirts to raise funds and awareness pitching in to promote the search for a cure for breast cancer.

“We had 176 athletes racing in pink shirts, and we sold shirts and gave out information,” Burmaster said of the weekend. “We raised over 1000 dollars for the Susan G. Komen foundation, the same group that does the Race for the Cure events. It was the first time we had done anything like this. I was very inspired by other Harvard teams that had done similar events, and Radcliffe crew has an amazing tradition of strong women, and I thought this was a great way to honor that tradition and give back at the same time.”

“Kate Burmaster came up with the idea to have all the Boston teams wear pink shirts racing this past weekend for the cause of curing breast cancer,” Demers said. “All the coaches rallied behind it, and we ended up making over 1000 dollars, which is really exciting. Kate did an awesome job. She really spearheaded that, and it was awesome and a fun event. It really extended the purpose of our rowing beyond winning a race. I’m sure we’ll do something like that again in the future.”

Radcliffe won the second varsity eight by a handy 12.5 seconds. BU placed second, with Northeastern and Boston College rounding out the race with third- and fourth-place finishes respectively.

In the third varsity four B, Radcliffe won by another large margin of 12.9 seconds, with Northeastern finishing in second place.

The novice eight closed out the heavyweight racing with a huge 24.2- second victory over Northeastern and BU.

Two weeks from now, the crew will head to Camden, N.J. for the all-important Eastern Sprints.

At the Sprints, Radcliffe must prove itself worthy of an NCAA tournament bid to continue competition. This means, however, this was the last time the senior class will call the Charles home water.

“It’s quite sad,” Demers said of her teammates’ last home race. “You don’t really think about it, because you have Sprints and hopefully we’ll get a bid to NCAAs since we’ve been improving on speed all season. But the seniors will never race on the Charles again, which is very sad. Afterwards, the freshmen put together a nice little presentation—they got flowers and did a speech about each one.”

“But having our boats sweep two weeks before Sprints [was fantastic],” Demers added. “It’s a confidence booster, and we’ve been gaining speed all season. I think we’ll have a very strong showing in two weeks.”

—Staff writer Elizabeth A. Joyce can be reached at