With a stunning final sprint, the
Harvard heavyweight men’s crew closed on the English Leander Club eight and, in a
photo finish, won
the Ladies’ Challenge Plate at the Henley
Royal Regatta on July 1 by a mere foot after a race of one mile, 550 yards.
Leander had led for the entire race, getting nearly a length ahead in the first
mile, staying in front at the Barrier and Fawley splits, and holding a
three-seat advantage with only 50 meters left. But the British eight, which boasted 14
world-championship medals among its oarsmen, could not hold off Harvard’s
closing charge. The triumph put a capstone on Harvard’s season, which
marked the fiftieth with Bolles head coach Harry Parker at the helm for the men’s
crew. (The heavyweights’ international lineup included two New Zealand brothers,
Sam and James O’Connor, who were recently
profiled in Harvard Magazine.)

Crimson won their eighth Ladies’ Plate (an “intermediate” event, for club and
university eights) overall and second in the past three years. Harvard’s
winning time of 6:33 was the fastest recorded by any crew in any Henley event
this year, including California Rowing Club’s winning time of 6:36 in defeating
Brown University in the final of the Grand Challenge Cup, Henley’s top
eight-oared event.

A detailed, anecdotal
account at the rowing website rowt2k.com relates the story of Leander’s
taunting the Crimson at the Ladies starting line, uttering words they were
forced to dine on just a few minutes later.

the week’s racing, three other Harvard and Radcliffe boats made the semifinals of their events: the varsity lightweight eight (U.S.
national champions under head coach Charlie Butt), in the Temple Challenge Cup;
coach Liz O’Leary’s Radcliffe
varsity heavyweight  eight in the Remenham Challenge Cup; and a Harvard heavyweight four in the
Prince Albert Challenge Cup. The Harvard freshman heavies got as far as the
quarters in the Temple.  All these crews
were knocked out by the eventual champions. “They each have a legitimate claim
to being the second-best boat in their event,” said Parker, “and that’s very
much to their credit.”


Harvard Triumphs at Henley

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