Harry Parker, The Thomas Bolles Head Coach for Harvard Men's Crew, and first varsity coxswain David Fuller after the Crimson's 1V win at Eastern Sprints May 19 (photo Harvard Athletic Communications).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard heavyweight crew will look for its third straight Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships medal when it travels to Lake Natoma, Calif., this weekend.
The 111th IRA National Championships
Schedule | Seeding Poll | Live Video
Coxswain: David Fuller; Stroke: Andrew Holmes; 7: Charles Risbey; 6: Vincent Breet; 5: Parker Washburn; 4: Josh Hicks; 3: Andrew Reed; 2: James O'Connor; Bow: James Medway
Coxswain: William Hakim; Stroke: Justin Mundt; 7: Gregory Edwards; 6: Max Meyer-Bosse; 5: Ed Rippon; 4: Andrew Emmett; 3: Alex Macintosh; 2: Lachlan Hanbury-Brown; Bow: Ryan Furey
Coxswain: Don Kim; Stroke: Rory Glover; 7: James Croxford; 6: Achim Harzheim; 5: Adam Janes; 4: Stefano Belfiore; 3: Abraham Polinsky; 2: James Green; Bow: Jay Ditmarsch
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Harvard will enter the weekend as the No. 2 ranked varsity eight. Washington is the favorite to take home IRA gold for what would be the third time in four years. Harvard's 2V is No. 5 and the 1F is No. 2. The Huskies have the top ranked boat in the first varsity, second varsity and first freshman competitions.
The first IRA regatta took place in 1895 in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Harvard first rowed at the IRAs in 1896, placing second to Cornell and ahead of Penn and Columbia in a race on the Hudson River. The Crimson raced again in 1897 but did not come back for almost 100 years, in 1995, when it placed fourth in a race won by Brown on the Cooper River.
Harvard's varsity eight placed third last season, after a second-place showing in 2011, and has placed in the top five in nine out of 10 years since 2003. The Crimson returned to the IRA regatta in 2003 after an eight-year absence and claimed an open-water victory over Washington for the Varsity Challenge Cup. That helped propel the Crimson to the Ten Eyck Cup, representative of overall team supremacy. The Crimson followed with varsity and team titles in each of the next two seasons. Harvard has also captured IRA gold in the 2004 freshman four, the 2006 second varsity eight and varsity four without coxswain and the 2008 open four events.
Related Link: Harvard's National Regatta Results
Three of Harvard's nine official heavyweight national championships have come at the IRA regatta: 2003, '04 and '05. The Crimson lightweights have won seven IRA titles. The only schools to sweep the heavy and light races are Harvard (2003) and Princeton (1998).
A Grand Tradition
Harvard's varsity eight has qualified for nine grand finals in the last 10 seasons. 2008 marked the only season Harvard competed in the petite final and the Crimson has responded with fifth-, fourth-, second- and third-place showings in the last four grand finals, respectively.
Last Season at IRAs
The Harvard heavyweight varsity eight and second varsity eight placed third in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships grand final last year. The varsity locked up the Crimson's second straight top-three national finish, and the second varsity medaled for the third straight year. Harvard rowed in four grand finals, with the freshman eight finishing fifth after being slowed by interference from geese on the course. The open four placed fourth, and the varsity four was second in its petite final.
Related Link: Harvard Heavyweight Crew Places Third at IRA National Championships
Guiding the Crimson
David Fuller, who is undefeated in dual competition at Harvard, will serve as coxswain of the varsity eight. Fuller has led the freshman boat (2010), second varsity (2011) and varsity eight (2012, 2013) during his time in Cambridge.
In three seasons in the Harvard varsity eight and one in the freshman eight, captain James O'Connor has gone unbeaten in dual racing (29-0) and captured three Eastern Sprints golds (two varsity) and one silver. He has also helped the Crimson varsity earn two national medals.
The Harvard heavyweight crew captured its fourth straight Rowe Cup for the fourth time in program history after a dominant performance in the first varsity race May 19 on Lake Quinsigamond in Worchester, Mass. The first varsity and first freshman both won grand final events, while the second varsity came in third. It was the 33rd overall Rowe Cup for Harvard and first time since 1976 the program has claimed four in a row.
Related Link: Harvard Heavyweight Crew Takes Fourth Straight Rowe Cup at EARC Sprints
Five countries and four continents are represented in the Harvard varsity eight, and five of the eight oarsmen are from the Southern Hemisphere. As many athletes (three) hail from Australia as from the United States. All three Americans are from Massachusetts.