June 28, 2006
The Harvard-Yale boat races were on the Thames River in New London on June 1 and 12. This is the oldest intercollegiate competition — been going for 141 years — at the same site between Harvard and Yale Universities, in sculls with a dozen crew and coxswain to guide the count.
Remember when the Edwards Brothers took observers over to New London in their 110 footers from the Promised Land? I think this was a fundraiser for a women's group for the Presbyterian Church. Our whole family went — my father with his trusty German binoculars.
This year, Saturday was the Freshman crew. Yale won by 8 seconds in the 16 minute race on this very windy afternoon. As the radio announcer said "black puffs" moved across the water, pushing the scull out of the straight line of their race course, just a bit. The course did go close to the western shore of the river, getting some shelter from the high bluffs and trees there. However, the race committee decided to postpone the JV and Varsity races until Sunday morning at 7 a.m. Did all the people who came to New London for the day have to get overnight lodgings? At any rate, the weather conditions were not better on Sunday morning, possibly the tide was different. The live announcer did say that there were some white caps on the river. The wind was 10 to 11 knots; a head wind. The race lasted about 16 minutes.
The Harvard J.V. won this race by eight seconds!
In a half hour, the Varsity competition began, in the same conditions. The Harvard Varsity won this race by six seconds!
Crew lists were discussed — members weighed in the vicinity of 200 lbs. There was at least one woman in each crew — usually the coxswain called the strokes.
It was exciting to listen to these two radio announcers describe the racing, apparently old pros at this athletic event. They would be describing it next year, they said.
Harvard practices on the Charles in Boston, Yale on the Housatonic in western Connecticut. It was nice to know that neither team practiced in New London on the Thames River.