Just as the season’s latest storm pulled away from Boston, some of the nation’s top collegiate crews rolled into town, creating a Saturday morning stir on the Charles River.
On the men’s side, fourth-ranked Harvard slipped past No. 3 Brown, while No. 8 Northeastern proved too much for 11th-ranked Boston University. In women’s action, No. 10 Yale overpowered a field that included Clemson, BU, and Dartmouth.
The Harvard-Brown rivalry has evolved into one of the sport’s classics, with each of the last five meetings decided by less than a length.
This time, the result tilted in the Crimson’s favor, thanks to an aggressive start that created a six-seat lead by the time the crews crossed the halfway mark. The Bears cut into the margin over the next 500 meters, but Harvard (5 minutes 53.6 seconds) held its ground as the boats sprinted to the finish. Brown was timed in 5:54.7.
“A great race,” said Harvard coach Harry Parker, who graduated four oarsmen from last year’s varsity that placed second — to Brown, of course — at the Eastern Sprints. “The conditions were excellent and both crews came out hard and raced that way for the entire 2,000 meters.
“I’m pleased both with our effort and the result, especially with this being our first hard race of the spring. Brown has an outstanding crew and we know we’ll see them again, but there are also a lot of tough races between now and then.”
Harvard (2-0) kept possession of the Stein Cup, while Brown dropped to 2-2, its other defeat coming last week in Seattle against top-ranked Washington.
“There were a few points in the race where it looked like we were able to make our way back, but each time Harvard was able to answer,” said Brown coach Paul Cooke, who is replacing six members from last year’s Sprints title boat, including his entire stern four. “After their initial margin, we pretty much fought over a seat or two the whole rest of the way.”
The NU-BU rivalry is equally fierce, though the Huskies have gained the upper hand in recent years, winning 11 of the last 13 races. After an even start, Northeastern seized control, gaining separation by the 600-meter mark and pulling away with an unrelenting pace. The margin was 2 lengths at the midway point, and the Huskies added another length with a strong move in the third 500. Northeastern finished in 5:58.7, ahead of Boston University’s 6:10.2.
“We put in a new lineup this week and I think the guys responded by rowing with the power-based rhythm that we aspire to,” said NU coach John Pojednic, whose crew features five sophomore oarsmen.
NU improved to 4-0 and retained control of the Arlett Cup, while BU slipped to 0-2.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” said BU coach Tom Bohrer. “It’s uncharacteristic for us to be that far back, but I have a gut feeling that we’ll follow our trend of recent seasons of getting faster through the spring.
“We have good depth in the program, and now need to find the combination that will move our varsity boat with the speed necessary to keep up with the top crews.”
Yale’s women showed their mettle in staving off a challenge from No. 14 Clemson, along with BU and Dartmouth. The Elis finished in 6:31.6, with the Tigers next in 6:36.6. The host Terriers (6:43.9) edged the Big Green (6:44.9) for third. Yale regained the Class of 1985 Cup and can claim a key result as crews position themselves to qualify in the expanded 22-school NCAA field.