In what can only be described as a dominating performance, the Williams men’s and women’s crews demolished crews from Wesleyan and Amherst in the annual Little Three Regatta. Despite racing on Wesleyan’s curving and unfamiliar course on the Connecticut River, the Williams crews swept all six eights events for the first time since the inception of the regatta in 1969.
Starting off the day was the men’s second varsity boat, who entered the race with last week’s dominating victory over Connecticut College and MIT under their belts. However, Wesleyan was looking for blood and they took advantage of the current and a fast start to open up a full boat-length lead 600 meters from the start. Undaunted, the Ephs took advantage of the inside of the first turn to gain back a couple seats, really turning it on in the middle section of the race, and pulling even by the second turn at 1300 meters down.
At this point Williams surged ahead, breaking the spirit of the Wesleyan crew, and finishing the 2000-meter course with open water over Wesleyan in a winning time of 6:10. The victory brought the Calhoun Cup back to Williams and set the tone for the rest of the day.
Next to take on the Cardinals was the women’s first varsity boat which had notched an impressive victory over Conn. College and MIT last weekend. Against Wesleyan the Ephs started 2.5 seats down on the staggered start but slowly worked their way up to even by the first turn where they broke contact with the Cardinals and began to move away.
According to Biz Smith ’00, “We took a couple seats from them and then they just couldn’t handle it. After that first turn we got going and after the second turn we just pulled away.” Williams finished in 6:23 to beat Wesleyan by eight seconds, retaining possession of the Neal Award.
Looking for redemption from last week’s loss to MIT, the novice men were the next to race as they took on Amherst. Williams had some difficulty in the start and was down a boat-length almost immediately, but they began to slowly gain on the Lord Jeffs and took control of the race with a move at 1000 meters.
“We took a big power 20 at the 1000-meter mark and we just walked through them,” Lock Reynolds ’01 said. “They started their sprint a little earlier than us and gained a couple seats back, but once we brought up the rating we held their move and pulled away to the finish.” The result was a satisfying victory in 6:20 and continued possession of the Bill McGraw trophy.
In the final eights event, the men’s first varsity boat looked to extend on its win from last weekend in its race against Wesleyan. Despite a slow start, Williams made up ground only to see it slip away as they were on the outside of the first turn. Coming out of the turn they moved ahead of the Wesleyan boat only to lose ground on the second turn.
Williams opened up the lead for good coming through 600 meters to go, weathering a hard, early sprint from Wesleyan to hold on for the victory in 5:51, a margin of only 0.9 seconds over Wesleyan in the day’s closest race. The win retained the prized Saratoga Oar for a record fifth consecutive time and was particularly sweet given that it came on the 20th anniversary of Williams’ first Little Three victory in the men’s eight event.
Despite going almost ten years before winning for the first time, Williams has now evened the series at 13 victories each for Williams and Wesleyan. The men’s and women’s crews race at home on Onota Lake this weekend, taking on RIT, Coast Guard, Tufts, Mt. Holyoke (women), Univ. of Massachusetts (men) and Univ. of Virginia (men).