I can't remember the last time the Sprints produced this many close finishes. Harvard V. Lights coach Charley Butt summed it up pretty succinctly when, speaking to the Boston Herald, he explained that a tailwind will tend to compress margins by a fair bit. Nonetheless, it takes nerves of steel and a pretty bulletproof raceplan to survive when the field sticks around 1000m longer than you think they will.
Final of the day undoubtedly the Varsity Lightweight Eight (see finish photo here). Yale pushed the pedal to the metal early in this one, and seemed to have the goods to hang on before Harvard and Cornell began to reel them in. All three crews in the medals beat the previous course record (Harvard 5:40.56, Yale 5:40.79, Cornell 5:40.82), and 26/100s of a seconds from first to third is something we likely won't see that soon again. This is some redemption for Yale, who are really just finding good speed now, and should make the IRAs a very interesting race.
In the Heavyweight Varsity, Princeton and Harvard reeled off a pretty epic battle almost a full length of open water ahead of the field. Princeton seemed to have the gears left to pull ahead of Harvard from where I was standing on the awards dock, but Harvard was rowing just too well together to allow it. This is another matchup that's just begging to go another round in Cherry Hill in a few weeks. The Harvard heavies, after now three years of dominating this race, have acquired a degree of grace; both the rowers and coach Harry Parker genuinely acknowledged Princeton's competitiveness on the awards dock.
Behind these two crews, Northeastern was rowing in an odd limbo, 5 seconds back on the leaders and 5 seconds ahead of the surprise crew of the regatta, BU's Varsity. Boston U., rowing from the #9 seed in the regatta, beat #4 Navy by half a length to get to the Grand, then put together a solid piece in the final to best Brown and Yale.
Both Frosh events came down to the proverbial wire (or, pixel in this case?) as well, with the Navy Frosh Lights putting on a ferocious charge to take their final by just over a second ahead of Princeton, while the Princeton Frosh Heavies also came up silver behind Brown, also by just about a second.
Incidentally, both Navy and Brown swept the frosh races in their respective division; while the Navy lights have a pretty full cupboard to boast of already, the Brown wins on the frosh side seem to herald some more competitive crews on the Seekonk in years to come.
It seemed like a lot more crews got to the medals dock this year all told than in the past few years. Parity, a non-factor last year when Harvard won 5 of 6 Grand finals, seems back to stick around.