In the oldest intercollegiate sporting event in America, Harvard still has Yale’s number.
The Crimson’s heavyweight crew swept all four races against Yale on Saturday in the 146th edition of the rivalry between the two schools, which was first contested in 1852 on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. All of Harvard’s boats entered the regatta undefeated. They left with their fourth consecutive sweep of the Elis.
“The Harvard crews we faced this weekend are the fastest that have come out of Cambridge in recent years,” captain Derek Johnson ’11 said. “Going into these races we knew what to expect and all of our boats fought hard, but the better crew prevailed.”
Harvard’s first varsity boat has now beaten Yale in 11 of the past 12 years. Since Crimson head coach Harry Parker took the reins in Cambridge in 1963, the Cantabs have lost to Yale only seven times.
Conditions were calm on the Thames River in New London, Conn. for the varsity eight boats’ four-mile race. Typical college races are 2000 meters long, and Johnson said that the traditional difference in the Harvard regatta changes the nature of the race and makes rhythm and efficiency more important than power.
The two crews matched strokes for the first 1.5 miles, with neither boat able to gain an advantage of more than three seats. But the Cantabs increased their tempo at the mile-and-a-half buoys, and Yale trailed by a length at the halfway mark. Harvard increased its lead over the third mile and finished in 19:05.7, 13.4 seconds ahead of Yale.
“Losing to Harvard hurts, but they’re obviously very fast,’’ head coach Steven Gladstone told The Boston Globe. “I was pleased with how we stayed right with them for the first 1.5 miles, and our guys absolutely gave full measure.’’
Gladstone, whose storied career includes a successful stint as Harvard’s lightweight coach and six national championships with a University of California program that was struggling before his arrival took over the Yale program at the beginning of the season. Although victory was elusive at his first Harvard regatta, he said after the races that he had come to Yale for the challenge and for the sake of building a program.
“With Coach Gladstone at the reigns Yale Crew is headed upwards, there’s no doubt in that,” Johnson said. “It’ll be interesting to see where the Yale program is two or three years down the road, but I’m confident that it will be on the medal stand.”
In the three-mile junior varsity race, Yale’s eight finished in 14:08, 20 seconds behind their opponents. And in choppy conditions, the Yale freshmen rowed two miles in 9:24.2, 21 seconds off the Crimson pace. The day before those races, Harvard’s combination eight beat Yale by 11.9 seconds, with a time of 9:40.5.