Harvard Captures Henley Ladies’ Plate with Thrilling Sprint

The winning Crimson varsity rowers celebrated with their Harvard/Radcliffe teammates (above) after receiving their trophy and medals (below, photo courtesy Henley Royal Regatta Photos).
The winning Crimson varsity rowers celebrated with their Harvard/Radcliffe teammates (above) after receiving their trophy and medals (below, photo courtesy Henley Royal Regatta Photos).

Ladies' Plate Results | Remenham Cup Results  
Temple Cup Results | Prince Albert Cup Results
Previous Recaps: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

The Harvard heavyweight varsity eight came from behind to defeat Leander Club by just a foot in a thrilling race for the Ladies' Challenge Plate to close the Henley Royal Regatta Sunday on the Thames River.

The Crimson won its eighth Ladies' Plate overall, its second in three years and its third in its last four appearances in the event. Harvard leaves Henley with a trophy for the third straight year and having seen each of its five entries win at least two races. The victory put a winning finish on the 50th season at the helm for Harry Parker, the Thomas Bolles Head Coach for Harvard Men's Crew.

"It was just an absolutely terrific effort on the part of the crew; they outdid themselves," Parker said. "They beat a very, every experienced and talented crew."

Leander led by nearly a boat length in the race's first mile, was ahead at both the Barrier and Fawley splits and owned a three-seat edge with barely 50 meters left. The British crew, however, had no answer for Harvard's ferocious sprint. Most of the standing spectators in the grandstand could not tell who won the race until seeing the Crimson oarsmen celebrating. Harvard's winning time was 6:33, the fastest mark in any event in this year's regatta.

"There were two aspects of the race," said Parker. "The crew did a terrific job of keeping Leander close enough so they could get through them at the end. And then the sprint at the end was absolutely tremendous. It's hard to match the caliber of the effort they put in."

Harvard's victorious oarsmen were Patrick Lapage, James O'Connor, Caspar Jopling, Matthew Edstein, Sam O'Connor, Michael DiSanto, Andrew Holmes and Parker Washburn. Seniors Lapage, Edstein, Sam O'Connor and DiSanto claimed the Ladies' Plate for the second time, having won the event in 2010. Coxswain David Fuller captured his second straight Henley medal, a year after guiding Harvard to victory in the Prince Albert Challenge Cup.

"It was a phenomenal race," said associate head coach Bill Manning. "The guys knew that they could do it if they didn't let Leander get too much of a lead. It was just a fantastic race, a fantastic sprinting finish."

Another Harvard heavyweight, Josh Hicks, was victorious as well. He stroked the winning entry in the Stewards' Challenge Cup in the National Rowing Centre of Excellence A entry, a coxless four of Australian under-23 rowers. Hicks, who also stroked an Aussie eight in the Grand Challenge Cup event, helped his four top the Waiariki Rowing Club of New Zealand by two-thirds of a length in 7:15.

Former Harvard heavyweight coxswain Chris Kingston '11 was also a winner Sunday at Henley, steering his Star Club four to the Britannia Challenge Cup. That win to start the morning of racing was almost as close as the Crimson's later. Star Club edged the Taurus Boat Club by three feet in 7:44.

Earlier in the week, three other Harvard/Radcliffe boats reached the semifinals of their Henley events: the Harvard lightweight varsity eight in the Temple Challenge Cup, the Radcliffe heavyweight varsity eight in the Remenham Challenge Cup and the Harvard heavyweight four in the Prince Albert Challenge Cup. The Harvard heavyweight freshman eight made the Temple quarterfinals, and lightweight sophomore Andrew Campbell advanced to the semis of the Diamond Challenge Sculls.

"All of our other boats, without exception, lost to the eventual winner of the regatta," Parker said. "They each have a legitimate claim to being the second-best boat in their event, and that's very much to their credit. It was great to win today, but the other crews also acquitted themselves extremely well."