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Slow Start Costly as Varsity Heavies Drop Race with Columbia

By Toby Ayer
team member

MIT and Columbia University split the victories in Saturday's heavyweight crew races on the Charles. Columbia went home with the Alumni Cup, having won the varsity race in 5:54.8 (MIT finished in 6:03.3). Columbia also won the second novice event. The tech first novice boat was victorious, as was the second varsity A four.

The first day of the spring season brought the exciting atmosphere of home races to the Pierce Boathouse, which hosted a number of visiting crews on Saturday. A number of MIT fans watched the day's events from the 24th floor lounge at Tang Hall, where they had a clear view of nearly the entire 2000-meter course from above the finish line.

The first novice boat won its first light blue Columbia racing shirts, beating the Lions 6:13 to 6:17 in Saturday's light tailwind.

"Although we beat Columbia by open water, we cannot be satisfied with this race if we are going to contend with the powerhouses of our conference," said 5-man Karsten Kallevig '99.

MIT races in the EARC, the top flight of rowing schools, which includes the Ivy League, Northeastern and Boston Universities, as well as other fast crews. Novice coach and Director of Crew Stu Schmill '86 is hopeful that this year's freshmen will be strong and successful.

A four pulls out narrow victory

The second varsity raced in fours. The A four Damon McMillan '98, Charlie Able '97, Brad Liechtenstein '96, Greg Miliotes '96, and Jason Wertheim '96 (coxswain) were just up on Columbia for the first half of the race. They finished about one length ahead in 6:54.1, six seconds ahead of Columbia and 18 seconds ahead of the B four. Wertheim felt that his crew rowed a good race.

In contrast, the first varsity eight could hardly claim to have raced at all. Adam Cotner '96, captain, commodore, and varsity stroke, had no comment about the rowing.

The boat's practice starts had been slow, which proved accurate harbingers for the real thing. Columbia was up four seats almost immediately, a lead they increased to a length without a challenge as the crews passed the Harvard Bridge just past the midpoint of the course. MIT failed to move up as the boats passed the MIT Boathouse, and Columbia won with some open water.

In a long post-mortem boat meeting, coach Gordon Hamilton (a Columbia alumnus who grudges his alma mater every one of their victories) consoled the crew, pointing out that Columbia was indeed fast this year, having just returned from a victory at the San Diego Crew Classic, where they beat some good crews to win the Visitor's Cup.

The tech eight learned that they need to be more committed and to "have the ability to come back from behind," as bowman Rob Lentz '98 pointed out. "We really need to capitalize on our experience and row with confidence."

In other crew racing on Saturday, Oxford University lost to Cambridge by 2.75 lengths in the 142nd Boat Race.

Next weekend, the MIT crews have a chance to feed their confidence when they travel to Worcester, where they will race Williams College, WPI, and Connecticut College.