On a chilly Saturday in Belleville, Mich., the Harvard-Radcliffe heavyweight crew team opened its 2017 spring season with races against No. 2 Ohio State and No. 4 Michigan. Though the Radcliffe first and second varsity eights lost to both rivals, the Black and White's third varsity boat claimed victory over its two opponents.
The weather conditions proved to be adverse with cross-tail winds ranging from eight to 15 miles per hour, but, at the same, were nothing new to the seasoned Charles River veterans. The Black and White heavyweights adapted to the tough conditions and claimed a victory with the third varsity eight boat, clocking in at 7:07.31, over five seconds ahead of the Buckeyes at 7:12.49 and the Wolverines at 7:13.11.
The Radcliffe first and second varsity eights, however, were bested by the Wolverines. Nevertheless, the margins were fairly tight. Michigan secured its victory in the first varsity eight event, clocking in a time 6:36.85 over Radcliffe’s time of 6:42.18. It again won the second eight event with a time of 6:45.53 over the Black and White’s 6:48.81.
“All crews did a great job of being adaptable,” senior captain Abigail Parker said. “The water was not always ideal, but our crews stayed calm and found ways to move the boats despite wakes, winds, and waves. Our 3V in particular had a standout performance in the afternoon, beating Ohio State in a close race.”
The Black and White first and second varsity eight raced again against Ohio State, placing second in both races in two close finishes.
In the first varsity eight race, Radcliffe with a time of 6:37.13 was less than three seconds off the Buckeyes' time of 6:34.24. Ohio State also won the second varsity eight race less than a four second margin ahead of the Black and White—6:38.79 and 6:41.24, respectively.
“Across the board, our racing demonstrated that our team has built up some good speed this year,” freshman first varsity eight coxswain Katherine Paglione said. “We got off to a fast start for our season, producing some tight margins against some of the fastest crews in the country. A definite highlight was our 3V eight's victory over Ohio State and Michigan. In other boats, we would have liked to see more wins, especially as we led for significant portions of several races.”
Despite not claiming varsity eight boat victories, the Radcliffe heavyweights walked away from the race confident and proud in their abilities and ready for the rest of the season.
“It was great to see our training over the past year start to pay off,” Paglione said, “and I think all our boats brought great energy to the race course. As the racing season goes on, we will work on improving our ability to move through and open up margins on other boats.”
The Black and White continued to adapt to the conditions at Lake Bellevue and took second place in the first and second varsity four races. The Radcliffe Heavyweights came in second behind Michigan State with a time of 7:43.2 for the first varsity four race. The Black and White also took second in the second varsity four race with a time of 8:06.92 behind Michigan’s time of 7:36.87.
After the eights races concluded against Ohio State in the afternoon round, Radcliffe landed in second in the first and second varsity four races. In the first varsity four race, the Black and White pulled through with a time of 7:44.59 against Ohio State’s time of 7:21.18. During the second varsity four race, Radcliffe again came behind the Buckeyes.
“There are technical changes to be made, as well as racing strategies that need to be developed,” Parker said. “But it is clear that the hard work on the ergs this winter has provided us with a great fitness foundation. We are in a great position to challenge the fastest crews in the country, as we proved this weekend.”
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