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Heavyweights Win Back Alumni Cup

By Toby Ayer
Team Member

The heavyweight crews won three out of four races last Saturday on New York City's scenic Harlem River, and as a result returned with the Alumni Cup. The regained cup was lost to Columbia University last year. It was the first intercollegiate race this spring and "a very satisfying start to the season," according to Victor "Chi" van Berkel '96, the varsity four-man.

The races went off Saturday morning in chilly weather. The only crew to lose, the second novice boat, raced first. Though it was even until the 1000-meter mark, Columbia pulled away and won in 6:47, while Tech finished in 7:02. The first freshmen had a more competitive race, spending the last 500 meters fighting off Columbia's attempt to regain the race. MIT sprinted hard and finished 1.1 seconds before Columbia, in 6:23.2.

The first varsity - Franz "Teijiku" Busse '95, Chris "Ni" Putnam '96, Jeff "San" Tomasi '95, Van Berkel, Toby "Go" Ayer '96, Adam "Roku" Cotner '96, John "Shichi" Singer '95, Nate "Seicho" Crosswhite '95, and coxswain Peter "Cacciatore" Yao'95 - had a very good race.

An early lead grew quickly to more than a boatlength. Rowing relatively slowly, at around 34.5 strokes per minute, they kept pushing further ahead of Columbia throughout the race.

Although the crew lacked a definitive sprint at the end, they were urged on by calls for "more open water" from former coxswain Neraj Gupta G at the finish line. MIT finished in 6:22.1, beating Columbia by 10.4 seconds.

The second varsity boat finished their race in 6:51.5 with the most dramatic lead of the day, nearly 30 seconds. Coxswain Jason Wertheim '96 said that after the 25-stroke, high-stroke-rating sequence at the start of the race, their stern had nearly reached Columbia's bow, and the rest of the race was simply moving further ahead.

In a lucky coincidence, the microphone connected to Wertheim's on-board computer, or "coxbox," went dead early in the race. Bowman Greg Miliotes '96 said that from his position, furthest from the coxswain's position in the stern, he couldn't hear any commands and had to trust the motions of the oarsman in front of him for any changes in stroke rating.

The first varsity, rowing in their still-unbeaten boat (christened just before last fall's Head of the Charles victory) ended their row with a poised paddle back to the dock, executed with greater equanimity than Columbia could suport. Following rowing tradition, the three victorious crews happily accepted the shirts worn by their racing rivals, then tossed their own coxswains into the murky Harlem. After the ceremony restoring the Alumni Cup to the hands of MIT Coach Gordon Hamilton, a smiling squad returned to Cambridge Saturday afternoon.