The nation's oldest rivals take to the Thames River in New London, Conn., Saturday afternoon for the 147th rowing of the Harvard‑Yale Regatta, America's oldest intercollegiate sporting event. The Crimson is seeking its fifth straight win against the Bulldogs and its 12th in the last 13 years.
Following Friday's 5 p.m. combination fours race, Saturday's competition gets going with the freshman race at 3 p.m. The second varsity race follows at 3:45, with the varsity race at 4:45. All races will be held downstream, with Saturday's events ending at the Gold Star Bridge.
Fans can catch the call of the racing on WKNL, Kool 101 FM (100.9). Harvard graduate Charlie Hamlin '70 and Yale lightweight coach Andy Card will have the call from the course. The broadcast will also be available online at www.kool101fm.com.
The Varsity Matchup
For the fourth straight year, Harvard and Yale avoided each other at Sprints and will meet for the first time in New London. Both teams have already guaranteed themselves winning seasons. Harvard enters with a 7-0 record, San Diego Crew Classic title and Eastern Sprints silver medal to its credit. Yale is 4-2 and began the season with a dual win against Brown, the crew that later edged the Crimson for the Eastern Sprints title May 13. The Bulldogs placed second in the petite final, eighth overall, at Sprints.
The 2011 Varsity Race
Harvard led by a couple seats after a half-mile and by nearly a length following a full mile. Yale kept contact and trailed by three seconds through 1.5 miles, but the Crimson soon gained open water and led by six seconds with half the course gone. The Harvard advantage reached 10 seconds through three miles and 14 seconds through 3.5. The Crimson completed its perfect dual season with a time of 19:05.7 to Yale's 19:19.1.
A Milestone Year
Harry Parker, the Thomas Bolles Head Coach for Harvard Men's Crew, is in his 50th season. He has guided the Crimson to 23 varsity Sprints titles and 18 second varsity crowns. Parker's dual coaching record is 312‑44-1, and his varsity has gone undefeated 21 times.
All three Harvard boats racing Saturday are unbeaten in dual competition for a combined record of 20-0.
Perfect Seasons Under Parker
The Harvard varsity eight is seeking its 22nd perfect dual season in the coaching tenure of Harry Parker and its third in four years.
Going the Distance
While most races are 2,000 meters in length, the Crimson and Eli varsities depart from that "sprint" distance to battle along a four-mile course. The varsity race is the longest of its kind in America and three times the distance of a normal race. (Each crew will take approximately 700 strokes to complete the course.) The combination and freshman races are two miles long, and the second varsity contest is three.
College sports' longest-running rivalry dates back more than a century and a half to a two‑mile race, won by Harvard, August 3, 1852 on Lake Winnepesaukee in New Hampshire.
Saturday's race is the 125th on the Thames. Harvard leads the rivalry, 92-54, including a 75-49 edge in New London. The last non-New London race occurred on May 18, 1974, on Boston's Charles River. This is the 67th straight year Harvard and Yale are rowing each other. The last time they didn't meet was 1945, during World War II.
In addition to its 92-54 varsity series lead Harvard leads the second varsity series against Yale, 72-37, and the freshman series, 68-39-1.
Harvard has swept freshman, second varsity and varsity races at each of the last four Regattas. The Crimson previously swept the Regatta for four straight seasons from 2001-04. It was a feat not accomplished since Harvard recorded five straight sweeps from 1971-75. Yale won two of three races in 2007 and last swept the Regatta in 1996.
The Second Varsity Race
Yale won second varsity event twice in three years from 2005 to '07, but Harvard has since claimed four straight wins, including a half‑minute victory last season. The Crimson hung on for a dramatic two-second win in 2009 and won by 15.6 seconds in 2010. In last year's race, Harvard led by five seconds halfway through the race but added 25 seconds to the margin over the second half. Harvard finished in 13:38, eclipsing the three‑mile course record of 13:46.1 set by the 2004 Crimson second varsity. Yale finished in 14:08.
Harvard's second varsity is 6-0 in dual racing and finished less than a second back of winner Wisconsin at Sprints. Yale is 4-2 and finished fourth in the Sprints petite final.
The Freshman Race
The Crimson has won five straight H-Y freshman races and nine in 10 years. A strong tailwind made for fast, but difficult, conditions last season. The Crimson challenged the course record before settling for a winning time of 9:03.2, while Yale reached the finish in 9:24.2.
Harvard, under first-year coach William Boyce, posted a 7-0 freshman record before finishing 2.2 seconds ahead of the pack in the Sprints grand final. Yale is 5-1 and placed fourth in the Sprints petite final. The Elis' lone dual blemish was a second-place finish between Cornell and Princeton.
The Combination Race
Friday's combination race is a chance to combine oarsmen from the varsity and heavyweight squads. This year's race will be held in fours with Harvard entering two boats and Yale entering one.
Sprinting to Success
Harvard captured the Rowe Cup team championship and freshman eight title for the third straight year at the EARC Sprints May 13 on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. The Crimson varsity and second varsity eights finished second, as Harvard medaled in each of its six events.
The fourth varsity eight also won gold for the third year in a row, while the third varsity and second freshman eights took bronze as part of yet another outstanding team performance for the Crimson.
The Harvard heavyweight varsity eight has defeated its last 20 and 35 of its last 36 dual opponents, with the lone loss coming in 2010 at Brown. The Crimson has defeated its last 21 and 43 of its last 44 dual opponents when racing at home on the Charles River. Harvard's last home loss was April 15, 2006 against Princeton. The Harvard freshman eight has defeated 42 straight dual opponents.