The 150th Yale-Harvard Race (maybe…)

Will the 'Rock' be red or blue on Monday?
Will the ‘Rock’ be red or blue on Monday?

Göran R Buckhorn writes:

Tomorrow, Sunday 7 June, it’s time again for the annual races between Yale and Harvard on the Thames River in New London, Connecticut. For the heavyweight (first) varsity crews, it’s the 150th edition* of the race, which makes it America’s oldest intercollegiate competition; the regatta was first organised on 3 August 1852 on Lake Winnepesaukee in New Hampshire.

There will be three races on Sunday, all going upstream: the third/freshman varsity, a two-mile race between Mamacoke Hill and Bartlett’s Cove, starting at 9:45 a.m.; second/junior varsity, a three-mile race from the Coast Guard Academy to Bartlett’s Cove, starting at 10:30 a.m.; and (first) varsity, a four-mile race between Gold Star Bridge and Bartlett’s Cove, starting at 11:30 a.m.

As always, it’s not easy to watch the race. Slightly more than a decade ago, there were actually so-called spectator trains running along the shoreline, but it only lasted for a couple of years. Tomorrow, spectators can watch the start of the varsity race from Riverside Park, middle distances from various beaches and the finish at the ‘Rock’ by Bartlett’s Cove.

The three races will be available on live stream on the Ivy League Digital Network. The production will feature audio from WICH 1310 AM’s radio call delivered by former Harvard oarsman Charlie Hamlin ’70 and Andy Card, Yale’s lightweight coach.

At the time of this writing, only ‘probable’ crews can be mentioned:

YaleOarYale (First) Varsity
Cox Chris Carothers
Stroke Nate Goodman
7 Ollie Wynne-Griffith
6 Hurbert Trzybinski
5 Paul Jaquot
4 David DeVries
3 Thomas Pagel
2 Robert Hurn
Bow Sholto Carnegie

HarvardOarHarvard (First) Varsity
Cox Cole Durbin
Stroke Charlie Risbey
7 Jack Kelley
6 Alexander Richards
5 Connor Harrity
4 Chase Buchholz
3 Max Meyer-Bosse
2 Ross Jarvis
Bow James Medway

Harvard Athletics’ website writes about the four-mile Varsity race:

Both teams are looking for the final say, as the Elis [Yale] are looking to build off its first Eastern Sprints victory since 1982, while Harvard upended the best team in the east at the IRA National Championships in the semifinals. The Crimson [Harvard] returns three rowers from the 2014 crew, including two – James Medway and Charlie Risbey – who have rowed with the V8 in three H-Y Regattas. Yale returns five athletes from the 2014 boat, three of whom also rowed with the first varsity in 2013. For the second-straight year, Yale will have no seniors in its V8, which features four juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen.

Harvard owns a 6-1 dual record and finished fifth at both Sprints and IRA’s. Princeton halted a 38-race win streak with a five-second victory in the Compton Cup on 18 April. This marks the second-straight year that Yale is undefeated heading into the IRA National Championships, but the first time since 1982 that the Elis also took home the Sprints title. Yale’s closest race during the regular season came in Ithaca, New York, as the varsity eight upended Princeton by 1.5 seconds to take home the Carnegie Cup. The Elis won the petite final in New Jersey last weekend.

About last year’s Varsity race, the Harvard website writes:

A year ago, Harvard used a strong stretch between the second and third miles to pull away to a 14.1-second win over Yale in the four-mile upstream varsity race, completing a seventh-straight sweep of the Bulldogs [Yale]. The Crimson [Harvard] took a slight lead off the start, leading by nearly two seconds by the half-mile mark, but the Bulldogs remained in contention for most of the first mile, staying in contact with the Harvard boat. After the Crimson upped its lead to four seconds after the first mile, Harvard continued to stride away and led by more than a boat’s length at the midway point of the race. Down the stretch, Harvard doubled its advantage between the second and third mile, leading by 14 seconds at the three-mile mark. In the last portion of the race, the Crimson remained in control, cruising past the finish line in 19:32.3, while Yale crossed in 19:46.4.

It is interesting to note that the American Boat Race is taking after its British counterpart when it comes to ‘internationalisation’ – Yale coach, Steve Gladstone, who is in his fifth season as the Bulldogs coach and was named the Ivy League’s Heavyweight Coach of the Year after leading Yale to its first Ivy title since 1982, has six foreign oarsmen in his top crew, from Great Britain, Germany, France and Australia, while Harvard coach Charley Butt, now in his second year as the Crimson heavyweight coach, has three Australians in his varsity crew.

Yale Second/Junior Varsity
Cox Grant Louis
Stroke Lucas Peilert
7 Kevin Kiernan
6 Oscar O’Reilly
5 Dougall Hamilton
4 Lyon Van Voorhis
3 Cole Tilden
2 Clemens Barth
Bow Adam Smith

Harvard Second/Junior Varsity
Cox Jessi Izhakoff
Stroke Henry Kennelly
7 Travis Taaffe
6 Curtis McLeod
5 Max Ferguson
4 Ed Rippon
3 James Johnston
2 James Croxford
Bow Ben Strathmore

About the Second/Junior Varsity Race Harvard’s website continues:

Harvard won the second varsity event for the seventh-straight year in 2014 after Yale took two of three races from 2005-07. The Crimson hung on for a dramatic two-second win in 2009 and won by 15.6 seconds in 2010. In last year’s race, the two crews battled stroke-for-stroke early on before Harvard grabbed an open water lead by the first-mile mark. The gap widened by the midpoint of the race, as the Crimson grabbed a seven-second advantage with 1.5 miles remaining. Down the stretch, Harvard poured it on, crossing the line in 14:15.7, while Yale finished the course in 14:33.1. Harvard’s 2V owns a 6-2 dual record this season and finished sixth at Sprints. Yale, which posted a 4-2 overall record, was two seconds ahead of the Crimson at the EARC Sprints.

Yale Third/Freshman Varsity
Cox Mackenzie Lee
Stroke Simon Keenan
7 Henry Bird
6 Robin Molen-Grigull
5 Gerard Kuenning
4 Elliot O’Reilly
3 Ed Reeves
2 Peter Tortora
Bow William Rosenbloom

Harvard Third/Freshman Varsity
Cox Jack Smith
Stroke Dom Glover
7 Phil Bates
6 Juri-Mikk Udam
5 Ryan Rasmussen
4 Andrew Emmett
3 Sean Vedrinelle
2 Rory Glover
Bow Adam Janes

Harvard’s website on the Third/Freshman Varsity Race writes:

The Crimson has won eight straight H-Y freshman/third varsity races and 12 in 13 years. Last year’s race saw the Crimson hold a slight lead from the start, before stretching it to open water by the mile mark against Yale. Harvard, which led by four seconds after the first mile, held its advantage the final half of the race, finishing the two-mile course in 9:19.6 to Yale’s 9:22.8. The Crimson freshman are a perfect 3-0 against other freshman boats and 5-2 overall. At Sprints, Harvard earned the gold medal, besting Wisconsin by over two seconds with a time of 5:46.6. The Yale 3V holds a 3-4 overall record and finished fourth in the petite final at Sprints.

The Yale-Harvard Regatta actually has a fourth race, a 2,000-metre combination event which is also held on the Thames but on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Rowing historian Thomas E. Weil waiting for his turn to draw the lane for Yale's crew in the Varsity race.
Rowing historian Thomas E. Weil waiting for his turn to draw the lane for Yale’s crew in the Varsity race.

*While this is said to be the 150th race between Harvard and Yale, it is probably not the 150th time boats from these universities have met to see which of the two university crews was the fastest. Last Thursday at the Harvard-Yale Regatta Luncheon, held in New London and hosted by the local Rotary Club, famous rowing historian, Thomas E. Weil, entertained a crowd with tales from earlier regattas. Weil gave some good and funny examples of races which can hardly be regarded as ‘fair’, an eight meeting a six-oared shell, races where one boat had a cox and the other was coxless; should a fight between fours, with or without cox, be counted as a real ‘race’? Some years up to six or seven crews from different universities, including Yale and Harvard, have met, where neither Crimson nor Elis won the competition. Through the years, races have been omitted in the race list given in the regatta programme because the ‘editor’ of the programme did not regard some old races as real due to the reasons mentioned above. In the beginning of the 2000s several of us present at the Luncheon, this writer included, attended festivities in New London to celebrate the Yale-Harvard 150th anniversary, when obviously a miscalculation had been done.

But at the end of his talk, Weil suggested that maybe, but just maybe we should all just decide that the 2015 race between Harvard and Yale is, as a matter of fact, the 150th.

The Luncheon was wrapped up by drawings of the lanes for the different races.

Below is a video interview with Harvard’s coach Charley Butt:

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