Men’s crew went on the attack last Saturday, facing MIT and WPI with all four of its crews. The men’s novice eight, third varsity and second varsity all came home victorious, while MIT narrowly defeated the first varsity eight by one and a half seconds.
The first eight fell early on, taking a chance on an unproven and ultimately unsuccessful racing strategy. The new strategy consisted of the first eight pacing themselves more conservatively in the first minute and waiting until the 800 meter mark to make their move. The plan was to leave more in reserve for the end of the race, where the boat had been passed by Harvard and Temple in the past weeks.
“So far this season, we have been racing out of the gate in a total war style,” said stroke and co-captain Riley Maddox ’08. “[Saturday] we went out trying to find some economy and get the most bang for our buck. What we found was that it pays to be aggressive off the start.” While able to hold off a surging WPI crew in the final sprint, the Williams first eight could not make up the four seat lead MIT gained at the start.
The other Williams’ crews were more successful. The second varsity eight, trailing WPI by a boat length going into the final 200 meters, charged forward, led by their engine room of Pat Chaney ’10, Will Eusden ’08, Leland Brewster ’11 and Mike Sacks ’09. The second varsity had to wait until the end of the regatta to find out who had won since only two tenths of a second separated the two top boats and the officials could not tell at the finish line that the men had beaten WPI. “It was definitely intense; it was awesome,” said second varsity coxswain Jenny Schnabl ’10.
The third varsity, led by stroke Greg Ferris ’10 and coxswain Janna Gordon ’11, fought back after a difficult start. Their steady, relaxed and confident stroke led them to pass through WPI and win by a margin of six seconds.
The novice men defeated the strong MIT first-year crew by more than six seconds. Jumping out to an early lead of a boat length, stroke Joey Kiernan ’11 held off successive MIT attacks to maintain control of the race.
This week, the men are focused on the Little Three championships and their first chance to race against Wesleyan. Last season the Cardinals swept the Little Three championships, while in years prior, Eph victories outside the first eight have been rare. This year, the depth of the Williams squad has opened up a third varsity eight for the first time in years.
“This is an important race for the seniors,” Will Parker ’08 said. With Amherst focusing on fours rather than eights, Wesleyan surging through the Williams first eight in 2007 to break a seven-year Williams winning streak, and the prestigious Saratoga Oar trophy at stake, the showdown with Wesleyan is on everyone’s minds. “This is our Homecoming,” Parker said.