The big question going into the 2011 Sprints is, is Harvard's lead over Princeton going to stick this year? If you recall, in 2010 Harvard beat the Princeton lights, previously undefeated, with a masterful race at Princeton to take HYP, only to lose to them at Sprints and IRA.
Fast forward to this year, when the Harvard lights beat Princeton with a masterful race on the Charles to win HYP; once again the Crimson head to Worcester ranked first. Either way, the margin isn't comfortable, with Harvard winning at HYP by only one second.
Behind these two is Dartmouth, who have found good speed under second-year head coach Dan Roock, and have raced well this season, falling only to Harvard, and that by less than a length. "Our Preparation has gone well, thanks to an excellent spring trip," said Roock. "The intensity of the season gives rowers a taste of what's to come at Sprints, but there isn't much anyone can do to fully prepare for the six across, fight to the finish excitement of the finals."
Yale, Navy, Cornell and Georgetown make up the tussle of crews who look likely to challenge for spots in the finals. "The guys put in a lot of work over the winter and continued to push themselves for top spots in the program," said Cornell's Chris Kerber. "Spring practice and racing conditions no doubt added challenges across the league."
Harvard, Princeton and Cornell take the top 3 spots in the JV rankings headed into Sprints, with Harvard undefeated, albeit narrowly; the Crimson have closed-water wins over Princeton and #4 Navy, while the unknown comparison is with Cornell; Cornell was slated to take part in the Matthews-Leonard Cup racing with Harvard and Penn, but the team did not make the trip for what was described as "team reasons."
Yale, Navy and Dartmouth make up the other likely finalists in the JV event.
In the Lightweight Freshman eight, Yale heads to Worcester as the undefeated favorite, although the FL8+ is as tight this season as it has been at any time, with crews racing each other tight across the board. Yale edged #3 Princeton by less than half a second at HYP, while Princeton in turn handed #2 Columbia their only loss, early in the season. (Columbia gets the nod at #2 by virtue of Princeton's defeat by #4 Cornell and Columbia's subsequent win over the Big Red. Did we say racing was tight?)
Also in the mix in the frosh eight is an ever-improving Harvard crew, which seems to have found solid speed late in the season.
Yale, Cornell and Navy take the top seeds in the 3V, 2F and 4V events; all three events are final-only with the 4V running in the morning and the 3V and 2F events taking place early in the afternoon schedule.