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It proved to be a successful weekend for the Harvard men’s heavyweight and lightweight crews, who each toppled opponents to extend undefeated spring seasons. The No. 4 heavyweights defeated No. 3 Brown on Saturday at home on the Charles River. The No. 1 lightweights displayed their dominance by sweeping all four races against Dartmouth and MIT.
The Crimson heavyweights captured the Stein Cup on Saturday, taking three of five races against the Bears. The win marked Harvard’s third-straight Stein Cup victory and 40th win overall in the race’s history. Despite the cold weather, racing conditions were calm and flat on the Charles River.
The first varsity event presented a tight race between the Crimson and Brown crews. Harvard took a slight lead around the 1,000-meter mark, but the Bears stayed strong and sprinted to the finish. The Crimson ultimately held on and finished in 5:53.6, defeating Brown by a margin of 1.1 seconds.
Harvard posted an additional win in the second varsity race. The race was similarly close until the finish.
“Brown was making moves and we were countering them,” said junior William Hakim, coxswain of the second varsity boat.
The Crimson took the lead at the end of the course to post a time of 6:03.9, beating the Bears by 2.5 seconds. Harvard also recorded a victory in the fourth varsity race, finishing in 6:29.4 to defeat Brown with an open-water lead. The third varsity and freshman eight races fell to the Bears in two tight finishes. These races were the closest of the morning, both decided by less than a second.
“It’s great to start our season off well,” Hakim said. “But Brown is a crew that gets faster and faster over the course of the season, so the goal is to keep improving.”
The Crimson lightweights traveled to Hanover, NH on Saturday to take on the Big Green and the Engineers for the Biglin Bowl. Harvard’s record at Dartmouth has been strong, as the crews’ success this weekend allowed the crew to capture the Bowl for the 50th time in its 59-year history.
“Yesterday was our best race of the year so far,” said senior Matt O’Leary, second seat of the first varsity boat. “It was a good turn-around from last weekend where we were average and weren’t quite as cohesive as we wanted to be.”
Saturday’s conditions were near-perfect, with little wind and calm water. The first varsity match-up started off as a tight race between Harvard, the Big Green, and MIT.
“In the 1V race, in the first minute or so all three boats were even,” O’Leary said. “MIT was actually in the lead by a little bit. About 500 meters in, we started to move away and got about a length up on Dartmouth and about a little over a length on MIT for the second half of the race. That’s when MIT faded back.”
The Crimson first varsity boat finished in 5:42.2, 3.9 seconds ahead of Dartmouth and 12.3 seconds ahead of the Engineers. The Harvard freshman boat also won its race, clocking a 3.6-second win over the Big Green boat.
The second and third varsity boats also posted decisive open-water victories over their challengers. The Crimson second varsity completed the race in 5:48.1, defeating MIT by a margin of 8.6 seconds and Dartmouth by 15.3 seconds. The third varsity boat finished in 6:02.7, significantly ahead of its opponents.
Despite Harvard’s success this year, the Crimson rowers remain focused on improvement and consistency.
“The goal of the season isn’t to win the early races, it’s to win the last races,” O’Leary said. “But, these are all teams we are going to be seeing in the IRA Championship and Sprints. It’s good to beat these teams, but we’ve got our eyes focused [forward].”
The lightweights face Navy at home on the Charles River next weekend. Overall, the team stated that the positive results of the weekend will give them good momentum heading into the rest of the season.
“It was great because all [Harvard] boats won,” O’Leary said. “It was a good team-wide confidence booster and we are pretty happy with the results.”
—Staff writer Alexa N. Gellman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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