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Heavyweight Crews Better than Ever at Foot of the Charles

By Toby Ayer
team member

At the Foot of the Charles Regatta, held Nov. 18, the men's heavyweight crews finished better than ever before. The first varsity four placed sixth among the colleges in their event and the first freshman eight was fifth in their race.

This last regatta of the season began at MIT's Pierce Boathouse and ended over two miles upstream at Harvard's Newell Boathouse. Varsity boats from area colleges and clubs all race in fours, while freshmen race in eights.

The 7 a.m. varsity race was won by Harvard in 13:02, followed closely by Northeastern. The first MIT four - Adam B. Cotner '96, Toby Ayer 96, Christopher S. Putnam '96, Victor H. van Berkel '96, and coxswain Anand Ragunathan '96 -finished in 13:38, five seconds behind Boston University's first four and three seconds behind Northeastern's second four. (Harvard's second boat and two local clubs also finished in the top five).

The varsity four had an excellent race overall, keeping relaxed and not losing efficiency by shortening their strokes. A plot of boat's velocities during the race showed a nicely flat curve, with significant slowdowns only on the major turns. This consistency may have been due to the challenge of NU's second boat, who started just behind MIT. Though they had moved up early, they were unable to get closer through the body of the race and MIT kept them about two lengths back.

MIT gained ground on both BU (who had started ahead of them) and Dartmouth (just ahead of BU) all the way upstream, then lost quite a bit of ground between the final two bridges, having taken a relatively long course. They finished ten seconds ahead of Dartmouth.

The second Tech four placed 16th with a time of 14:04. The other fours were 24th, 27th, 33rd, and 36th out of 46 total crews. The lightweight boats finished 22nd, 32nd, 34th, and 39th.

Overall, varsity coach Gordon Hamilton was "pleased and relieved" with the results. The heavyweights had moved their practices to early mornings for the previous three weeks, and Hamilton saw the ill effects of such a schedule on athletes unaccustomed to rising early.

The success carried over to the freshman race. MIT has an unusual number of freshmen rowers with previous crew experience, and it showed. They placed fifth out of 44 crews, finishing 26 seconds behind Harvard's winning time of 12:33, boding well for the spring season. Other frosh heavyweight boats placed 16th and 27th. The freshman lightweights were 14th, 26th, and 37th.

The Foot of the Charles marks the end of the fall season as well as the end of on-the-water training. The next race will be against the University of Miami, midway through the January training trip to Florida. The spring "sprint" season opens at the end of March.