In rainy and slightly colder than normal temperatures, the Harvard men’s and women’s heavyweight and lightweight crew teams got back to work for the spring season, hitting the water for early morning races this past Saturday.
The No. 6 heavyweight team opened the 2016 season on the road, taking on No. 7 Cornell and George Washington on Cayuga Lake in Ithaca, N.Y. The Crimson and the Big Red had met in head-to-head competition only 12 times before this meeting, with the Crimson taking home the win in five consecutive years. This year was no different, with Harvard extending its series lead to 9-4.
Though there was a slight tailwind that built up over the course into a stiff wind, Harvard powered through to win three of the five races.
“We thought it was going to be a big tail wind, which would make the boat feel lighter and faster, so we were prepared to change our stroke a little bit to take advantage of that,” sophomore Jack Kelley said. “There really didn't end up being much wind for my race, but there was for the other boats, and they handled it well.”
The day began with the Varsity Eights race. The Crimson, led by seniors James Croxford, and Achim Harzheim, sophomores coxswain Cole Durbin and stroke Conor Harrity, crossed the finish line at 5:41.7, nearly five seconds ahead of Cornell, which finished at 5:46.3, and 11 ahead of George Washington, which stopped the clock at 5:52.5.
The second varsity boat, coxed by sophomore Jacqueline Goodman and stroked by freshman Liam Corrigan, won its race with the fastest time of the day, finishing with a time of 5:38.5, besting both Cornell and GW by open water.
The 3V boat also won, rounding out the Crimson wins of the day.
“The team did great,” Kelley said. “We're lucky to have such a deep team where everyone challenges each other to be better in practice. When we line up to race another team, we use the experience of racing each other.”
Over in Cambridge, the men’s lightweights raced against Boston College, Bates, and UConn in its first race of the 2016 season. The Crimson swept its competition, claiming first place in every race of the scrimmage.
The V8 boat finished at 6:17.9, five seconds ahead of the second place finisher, Bates, while the 2V and 3V boats both won by open water. The freshman eight boat also made a splash, winning over Bates by just under four seconds with a time of 6:56.7.
Also on the Charles was the No. 17 Radcliffe heavyweight team, which came into the race against Dartmouth and No. 1 Brown fresh off a strong showing in the Beanpot that included bringing home the trophy. With this momentum, the Black and White hoped to win for the first time in seven meetings against the Bears as well as extend its win streak against Dartmouth.
“We were definitely ready to get the season started,” sophomore Katherine Playfair. “We had done a lot of great work over winter break, put in thousands of meters both on, and mostly off, the water, and we were eager to see it pay off.”
Radcliffe ended the day taking second place, after nabbing the second spot in four of the five races.
Like the men’s team, the women’s heavyweights races were affected by the weather. The boats faced a quartering headwind and rain, but relatively calm waters.
The first race of the day was the V8 race. The Black and White boat, coxed by sophomore Katie Felsheim and stroked by freshman Raf Stalph, kept up with the top-ranked team for the first 1000 meters, but the Bears pulled ahead to finish 6:51.1, nine seconds ahead of Radcliffe, which stopped the clock at 7:00.7. The Big Green finished the race 23 seconds later, at 7:23.7.
In the 2V race, Radcliffe was behind and ahead of its opponents by open water. Dartmouth pulled away after 500 meters, and could not be caught. It finished at a fast 6:54.9, 15 seconds ahead of the Black and White’s time of 7:09.2.
The varsity four B and third varsity boats also placed second in their races, finishing with times of 8:20.6 and 7:49.6. The varsity four A boat was the only one to finish third.
“Most of our boats were proud of their performance but eager to make improvements for next weekend,” Playfair said. “We can’t be satisfied given that none of our boats won first place, so we will continue to find more speed. It’s important that every teammate pushes themselves to be the fastest they can be this spring, no matter what it takes.”
Like the heavyweights, the No. 2 Radcliffe lightweight team went into its race coming off of a solid start to its 2016 season in which it took back the Class of 1999 cup. With last week’s win, a strong dual race record—since 2012, the team has won 21 of 22 contests, and has a 1-0 record this year—and a home advantage, Radcliffe was ready to take on Georgetown.
Despite the weather, the Black and White did just that, winning both races to take the Class of 2004 cup.
The V8 squad, coxed by freshman McKenzie Parks and stroked by senior Naomi Lang, and 2V boat, coxed by sophomore Electra Lang and stroked by junior Serena Blacklow, raced together against the Hoya’s V8 boat, with both defeating Georgetown by open water. The V8 boat claimed first place with a time of 7:11.6, the 2V boat finished at 7:27.2, and Georgetown stopped the clock at 7:42.5.
The Black and White 4V boat, coxed by sophomore Jacqui Epstein, raced to a 8:44.2 finish, 15 seconds ahead of Georgetown.
—Staff writer Katherine H. Scott can be reached at email@example.com