Time to Make Some Rules

harvard-yale-regatta-190513 February 2017

Göran R Buckhorn writes:

After 165 years, time to make some rules.

That is one way to describe the ruling a committee made after eight months of investigating a dispute at last year’s Yale-Harvard Regatta on 12 June. The regatta committee has now informed the crews from Harvard and Yale that raced in the 4-mile event on the Thames River in New London, Connecticut, that the 2016 Sexton Cup trophy will be engraved with the words ‘no official result’.

Last year’s regatta, the 151st edition, was rowed in rough conditions to say the least, the Thames was choppier that usual. The Yale crew was leading by a boat length at the one mile mark when the Harvard boat suddenly took in a lot of water. The Crimson crew abandoned ship and was picked up by a launch while the Yale crew continued to row and crossed the finish line. However, the bulldogs’ sweetness of victory was short lived. The Yale crew was informed that a regatta official had waved a red flag stopping the race after Harvard’s sinking.

Steve Gladstone, Yale heavyweight coach, immediately appealed the result. Last week, on 9 February, the regatta committee informed the crews that the 2016 race officially had been declared a ‘no race’.

‘The race was poorly officiated,” Gladstone told the Associated Press (AP). ‘There is some precedent. In the other big 4-mile race, the Oxford-Cambridge race, the crew that crosses the finish line is the winner. If the other boat sinks, they sink.’

Here is what happened:

According to AP, Stephen H. Brooks, chairman of the Harvard-Yale Regatta Committee, called the decision regrettable in a memo from 24 January to Gladstone and Harvard’s heavyweight coach, Charley Butt. Brooks said that the decision was made after ‘much deliberation, research, and consultation with both of you [Gladstone and Butt], as well as with respected rules officials, historians and others.’

To prevent this from happening again in the future, the regatta committee will soon release formal rules for the regatta, which is the oldest active collegiate sporting event in the USA, rowed for the first time in 1852.

AP ends its report by saying that this year’s race is scheduled to be held on 10 June, ‘weather permitting’.

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