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This past Saturday, both the heavyweight and lightweight divisions of the Harvard-Radcliffe women’s rowing team set the bar high as they dominated the competition in their respective inaugural regattas of the spring season.
Out in the Charles River basin, the Radcliffe Heavyweight Varsity team competed with Northeastern, Boston College, Boston University and MIT in the ninth running of the Beanpot regatta. The squad captured the coveted Beanpot trophy, nearly sweeping the entire event in every race with the exception of the 4th Varsity 8, which fell to BC.
Similarly, down on Lake Carnegie in Princeton, NJ, the Radcliffe Varsity Lightweight team collected its share of hardware for Weld Boathouse. The squad managed to vanquish the Princeton boats in every race, taking home the Class of 1999 Cup.
Having laid down a solid groundwork to build upon for upcoming races, the two squads look to keep honing their skills to ensure that their successes continue in the future.
“Mostly we want to think not just about this weekend, but the season as a whole,” said junior Radcliffe Heavyweight rower and Under-23 sculler, Mary Carmack. “We still are looking to improve and get faster with every race.”
For the first time since 2012 the Radcliffe Heavyweights opened their season with the Beanpot. The squad has emerged victorious in seven of the eight iterations of the event only losing only once to Columbia and BC in 2010. Nevertheless, the Black and White viewed this year as particularly successful as all of its victories were won by open water—with the Varsity 8 boat winning the premier event by a 3.9 second margin over Northeastern.
“We got off the line and we were pretty much ahead right off the start, kept taking seats and gradually pushed away from the other boats,” junior Isabella Benduski said. “Our whole team was pleased with the results but we know we have some work to do to keep getting faster.”
While it still seeks to work on potential areas of improvement, the RVH team has already made a sizeable down payment thanks to valuable water time spent in Florida this spring break.
“Florida was a huge part in how we got faster this year,” Benduski said. “While there we practiced twice a day, racing everyday against each other and we really worked on matching up our strokes and swinging together.”
The Radcliffe lightweights also had a stellar performance against Princeton. With wins in every category, the RVL squad displayed its proficiency and depth this year.
“Today was a great start to the season for RVL,” senior oarswoman Gabby McNeil said. “It was a great day of racing across the board for the 1V, 2V and 3V. We also brought a lot of novices, who had never raced before, so this definitely was a great start to the season for everyone on the team.”
Aside from the sweep, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this year’s performance at the Class of 1999 Cup was the Varsity 8’s vast increase in margin of victory over the Tigers relative to last year. Whereas in last year’s race, the V8 edged Princeton out by a mere half a second, this year, the Radcliffe boat crossed the finish line 17 seconds before its Princeton counterpart.
Again, much of this success can be attributed to the team’s ability to train on the water much sooner this year. Thanks to the river thawing early and the training trip to Florida this spring, the squad has managed to gain traction right away this season.
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