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Crew Wins Against Coast Guard; Freshman Boat Tacks to Victory

By Michael K. Chung
Team member

The men's lightweight crew team traveled to New London, Conn. last Saturday to battle the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in the 2,000-meter sprint. The first varsity and first and second freshman boats succeeded, but the second varsity boat was unable to complete the sweep.

Because of the rough water conditions and moderate fog, the race was shortened from the traditional 2,000-meter length. which typically lasts between six and seven minutes depending on the strength of the boat and conditions, to a straight 6-minute race.

The races commenced with the first varsity boats racing, along with Coast Guard's second varsity heavyweight boat. As the race began, MIT began to pull away from the Coast Guard crew, gaining seats at a steady rate, and then making a charge after the 4-minute mark.

At this point, the crew accelerated from its base cadence of 33 strokes-per-minute to 39 strokes-per-minute. This was the high point in the race for the Engineers, according to Coxswain Otway Louie '93. He said that "although we didn't sprint very well at the end, it didn't matter for this race, as we were substantially ahead of the other crews."

Steve Wiggins '93, captain of this year's varsity lightweight squad, said that "considering the amount of water time we've had this year and the conditions, it was a good race, and we hope to continue to win."

The second varsity was the next to compete. Despite a sudden warning by the U.S. Navy base for "rowboat personnel" to "maintain a distance of at least 25 yards from the submarines," the race started with reasonable composure exhibited by each crew.

From the beginning, the Coast Guard crew gained seats on the MIT crew, and was in control during the entire race. As coxswain Jason Yip '95 put it, "We simply got out-pulled by a stronger crew."

Although the MIT second boat rowed under reasonable control throughout the race, it was not able to pull together as a boat when it mattered. Varsity Coach Pete Holland expected the MIT boat to win until he found out that Coast Guard's second varsity defeated its first varsity last week, reflecting the depth and evenness of the crews.

The freshman crews took to the race-course soon after and made a strong showing, with both MIT novice boats beating the first novice boat of Coast Guard. As Coach Mike Welch put it, "even though the first boat rowed two minutes to the right, two minutes to the left, and then two more minutes to the right, it was still able to defeat the other boats -- despite its deviation from its resultant vector."

The crew of the first varsity boat, from stern to bow, was Ron Harvey '93 at the stroke seat, Brett Bader '95, Mark Armstrong G, Rob Bergan '94, Greg Campbell '94, Wiggins, Jim Nohrden '94, and John Paschkewitz '95 at the bow seat. Coxswain Louie guided the first varsity to a clear victory, defeating both boats by more than a boat-length.

Yip coxswained the second varsity boat boat, manned by: Babak Azad-Tatari '95 at stroke, Kenway Louie '93, Jock Jones '95, David Gerson G, Srijoy Mahapatra '94, Scott Keller '95, Arun Thomas '95, and Michael Chung '94 at bow.

All in all, it was a successful early-morning road trip for the men's lightweight crews. There will be no more easy victories for the Engineers. Their next race will be against Harvard University this Wednesday, beginning at 7 a.m. on the Charles.

For those of you who are interested in watching this grand spectacle, the race begins near the Sailing Pavilion, the Harvard Bridge is just before the 1000-meter mark, the boathouse is just before the 1500-meter mark, and the finish line is marked by the two white stakes along the river just outside Tang Hall.