Men's Heavyweight Excels While Radcliffe Crews Falter in Opening Weekend

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In a flurry of races on the Charles River this past Saturday, the No. 16 Radcliffe heavyweight crew team, No. 2 Radcliffe lightweight crew team, and No. 2 Harvard men’s heavyweight crew team lined up for what was the first day of official competition since November for most rowers. While this weekend’s races marked the start of the spring dual season for the Radcliffe lightweight and men’s heavyweight teams, the Radcliffe heavyweight squad had raced the previous weekend, edging Michigan State and falling to Ohio State.

By the end of the day, men’s heavyweight crew comfortably bested both No. 10 Cornell and No. 15 George Washington in contests that were dictated by races won in no less than six seconds. The Radcliffe crews met different fates, however, with The Black and White heavyweight team falling to No. 8 Brown, and the lightweight crew falling to both No. 8 Georgetown and Bates.


The Crimson entered Saturday’s races after a rigorous winter training program. According to senior Dominic Glover, the team was excited to line up on the water to race.


“Definitely, the racing is what you’re there for,” Glover said. “The winter training is tough and it’s long, and a lot of it is indoors, but when you get out there to race, it’s the reason you’ve been putting in eight months of work, just to get out there alongside another school.”

If the team’s desire to race played any role in its performance, the rowers for Harvard must truly have been thrilled. In five races on the day, the Crimson blew past both its Big Red and Colonials opponents in dominating performances from the first to fifth varsity eight.

Harvard’s first varsity boat, stroked by junior Liam Corrigan, who was named to the All-Ivy League second team last year, clocked in in 6:04.686, more than 10 seconds in front of its Cornell counterpart and almost 15 seconds in front of George Washington. The second and third varsity boats also took victories by margins of victory of six and 12 seconds respectively.

“We have three freshman rowers and a freshman coxswain in the boat,” Glover said. “They brought a lot of energy, which was great, and we had a really strong start and got up early and put ourselves in a really strong position in the first thousand meters of the race. It was fairly tough conditions with a fairly strong crosswind, so we wanted to remain consistent and stay on our form through the finish of the race.”


The women’s lightweight crew, although ranked second in the nation, fell to both the Hoyas and Bobcats in three races on Saturday. In the first varsity race, Georgetown won in 7:04.716, a margin of victory of over 16 seconds over Radcliffe and 18 seconds over Bates, to secure the 2004 Cup.


On the heavyweight side, No. 8 Brown captured victories over the No. 16 Radcliffe rowers in all five races on Saturday.

“I think overall, the team was pretty pleased with our results,” Donnecke said. “Over the last four years, this is the first time we’ve finished in one of the earlier dual races against them with such a close margin. Three seconds for the 1V and the 2V, that’s a pretty easy margin that’s easy to make up over a couple of weeks.”

Just as Donnecke said, this weekend’s races, particularly the first and second varsity races, were decided by just three seconds each. The Bears took the first varsity race in 6:52.433 and the second varsity 6:58.575.

For the first varsity race, a miscommunication at the start gave Brown the early advantage.

“Brown got out a seat or two on the start, and we were fighting,” Donnecke said. “We were behind. They were barely in our vision the whole race, but we kept edging back into them, and then they’d take a bit, but then we edged back in, so it was a really hard fought race and it was cool to see how mentally tough we were throughout that.”

The Bears also took the 4VA, 4VB, and 3V races from the Black and White to complete the sweep. Donnecke said that the team has a strong training regiment to the future to shave off Brown’s slight margins of victory moving into championship season.

“I feel pretty optimistic and excited,” Donnecke said. “Usually, we come away from Brown feeling a bit down and because the margins are way bigger. We still didn’t win this weekend, but we were so close that we know it’s just a couple of technical changes, a couple of race plan fix ups, and then we’ll drop those seconds, so it’s exciting.”

—Staff writer Leon K. Yang can be reached at