The third-ranked Harvard Crimson stamped itself as the favorite for the 2011 EARC Championship next month, but the Princeton varsity eight showed that it will be one of the prime contenders when the two teams meet again on Lake Quinsigamond for the Eastern Sprints on May 15.
Harvard swept all four races Saturday morning on Lake Carnegie, though it was the actual Compton Cup showdown that was clearly the highlight race of the morning. One season after edging Princeton by less than three seconds to win the EARC and Ivy League title, Harvard would have an even slimmer margin of victory on this Saturday morning.
Princeton (4-1, 2-1 Ivy League) actually held two slim leads during the race, including one at the very start. Harvard called out the first press and gained a slim lead, but Princeton mounted the following charge and got its bow back ahead around the midway point of the race. The Crimson didn't let the deficit grow much more and slowly drew back to even as the two boats were within 500 meters of the finish.
It was over the final 300-400 meters when Harvard showed its championship experience, pushing the lead to one seat, then two and finally assuming control over the final 200. A valiant Princeton run would never be able to get a third lead, as Harvard won in 5:45.6 and Princeton finished second in 5:46.8.
That would be the closest of the four races. The Harvard 2V dominated from the midway point on to win its showdown in 5:51.8, while Princeton finished open water behind in 6:01.8. The Harvard 3V also won by open water, finishing in 6:02.2, while Princeton took third in 6:17.5.
Princeton's undefeated freshman eight faced its biggest test of the season against a fellow unbeaten in Harvard. While the Tigers were able to stay within six seconds, it was the Crimson who remained perfect with its win in 5:59.6. Princeton topped MIT with a second-place time of 6:05.4.
Princeton will try to build a new win streak while continuing preparations for the upcoming Eastern Sprints and IRA Championships when the Tigers host both Cornell and Yale in the Carnegie Cup regatta next weekend.
Second Varsity Eight
Third/Fourth Varsity Eight
Harvard 4V 6:13.4