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MIT’s heavyweight eight traveled to Henley-on-Thames, England to compete in the Henley Royal Regatta on July 1–5. Tech defeated Molesey Boat Club to advance to the second round of the single elimination tournament, but the Engineers were knocked out by Brown University the next day, ending Tech’s season.

Tech entered into a field of twelve crews in the Ladies’ Challenge Plate event, which was comprised of top universities and rowing clubs from both sides of the Atlantic. In the first round, MIT drew the crew from Molesey Boat Club, a top rowing center located ten miles to the west of London. This particular eight contained two rowers that won the coxed pair in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona; the coxswain also had Olympic experience in the 1984 Los Angeles games.

Once the race started, Tech immediately charged to a lead of just under a length. MIT maintained this lead throughout the majority of the 2,112 meter race, but Molesey put together a strong move before the one mile mark. At its tightest, Tech’s bow was only a few meters ahead of their British opponent. In the end, MIT was able to hang on to this lead and extend it in the final few strokes to win with a final margin of one third of a length.

The next day, MIT faced a tough matchup against the Eastern Sprints champion, Brown University. Brown held nothing back during the race and led from wire to wire with the outcome never in doubt; two-and-a-half lengths was the final verdict. In the ensuing days, Brown went on to defeat two top British crews, including the Under-23 National Team, to win the Ladies’ Challenge Plate.

In addition to the first eight, Tech sent two other rowers along on the trip as spares. These spares competed in the “spare pair” race held in Henley before the Royal Regatta. The pair, made up of rising sophomores John C. Busche ’12 in bow and Christopher M. Jones ’12 in stroke, easily dispatched the pairs from Princeton University’s lightweight team, Bates College, and Gonzaga College High School to win the event.

The Henley Royal Regatta marked a successful conclusion to an extraordinary season. MIT’s eight defeated Princeton University in the Compton Cup for the first time since 1975, and Tech finished 12th out of 18 at the Eastern Sprints Regatta, better than any year in recent memory. The Engineers will look to build upon this record in the 2009–10 season on the backs of a strong class of rising sophomores.

The lineup of the varsity eight was (bow) Lucas W. Goodman ’11, (2) David P. Jenicek ’09, (3) Steven A. Wesel ’12, (4) Kevin M. Kelley ’09, (5) James T. Stenard ’09, (6) Thomas A. Larsen ’09, (7) William R. Nolan ’09, (stroke) Luke S. Urban ’09, (coxswain) Stephen F. Young ’09.