Princeton picked up its first two Ivy League wins of the season by taking the varsity eight race in 5:33.9, while Penn finished second in 5:41.2. Columbia, in its first season under former Princeton lightweight assistant Scott Alwin, took third in 5:42.0.
"I think we had a good piece," junior James Hamp said. "We knew both teams were going to be tough, and it being Penn's home course gave them an advantage. We thought they were really going to attack the first minute or two of the piece, so we really tried to have an internal focus and have our best start. We took a few seats off the line and held them when they had the inside of a turn 600 meters in, and then pushed away from there."
That was one of three Princeton victories during the morning regatta on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. The 3V edged Penn by 2.3 seconds in 5:52.8, while the 4V won by 4.4 seconds in 6:00.4.
The Princeton second varsity suffered its first loss since 2012, falling to Penn by less than four seconds. The Tiger 5V also fell by less than seven seconds to Penn.
Saturday's win was the first step in a journey that Princeton hopes to culminate on May 18 with an Ivy League championship, but the rowers also understand the significance of being part of a rivarly that began in 1879.
"Being a part of the Child's Cup is pretty cool," Hamp said. "Even if it is just a small part of the larger history of the race, every oarsman who competed in the race has some small part of it. I remember when the varsity won the cup in 2012, marking the first time Princeton had ever led in that series. Right then, I promised myself that I would do everything I could to ensure Princeton would maintain that lead while I was here. This week was an opportunity to fulfill that promise."
Princeton will try to keep its perfect record intact next Saturday morning when it takes on its highest-ranked opponent of the season; based on results later Saturday, it could remain the top-ranked boat in the nation. The Tigers will head to the Charles River to take on No. 1 Harvard for the Compton Cup; the Crimson race No. 6 Brown later Saturday.
"I think we have some good momentum going into the next three races," Hamp said. "We have gotten better every weekend this season, and this was no exception. We thought we were a little sluggish at points last week against Navy, and I think we had our best and most complete race of the season this week.
"There are obviously still things that we need to focus on and work on, and we'll do that leading up to the Harvard duel next weekend. I'm excited based on how the boat has continued to come together. We've got a lot of hard work to do the next month or so and we're looking forward to it."
Second Varsity Eight
Third Varsity Eight
Fourth Varsity Eight
Fifth Varsity Eight