No. 7 Harvard Heavyweight Crew Eyes IRA Medal

Photo courtesy of Zack Williamson
Photo courtesy of Zack Williamson
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – No. 7 Harvard heavyweight crew travels to Mercer Lake in New Jersey for the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championships this weekend. Racing starts at 8 a.m. Friday, May 29 and concludes with the varsity eight grand final at 12:45 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

The 113th IRA National Championships
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 took fifth a year ago, after medaling in 2012 (bronze) and 2013 (silver). The Crimson has placed in the top five in 11 out of 12 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.

First Varsity
Coxswain: Cole Durbin; Stroke: Charlie Risbey; 7: Jack Kelley; 6: Alexander Richards; 5: Conor Harrity; 4: Chase Buchholz; 3: Max Meyer Bosse; 2: Ross Jarvis; Bow: James Medway

Second Varsity
Coxswain: Jessi Izhakoff; Stroke: James Croxford; 7: Travis Taaffe; 6: Curtis McLeod; 5: Max Ferguson; 4: Ed Rippon; 3: James Johnston; 2: Sean Vedrinelle; Bow: Ben Strathmore

Third Varsity
Coxswain: Jack Smith; Stroke: Dom Glover; 7: Phil Bates; 6: Juri-Mikk Udam; 5: Henry Kennelly; 4: Andrew Emmett; 3: Ryan Rasmussen; 2: James Green; Bow: Adam Janes

Varsity Four 

Coxswain: Joanie Kim; Stroke: Ty Gill; 3: Stefano Belfiore; 2: Achim Harzheim; Bow: Craig Slater

Crimson Champions
Three of Harvard's nine official heavyweight national championships have come at the IRA regatta: 2003, '04 and '05. The Crimson lightweights have won eight IRA titles. The only schools to sweep the heavy and light races are Harvard (2003) and Princeton (1998). 

Last Time Out
Harvard's freshmen squad put together an impressive race in its grand final at the Eastern Sprints, besting Wisconsin by over two seconds with its finishing time of 5:46.604. The Crimson and Badgers were on equal ground heading into the final 500 meters, but Harvard took control and moved into the top position, maintaining the lead through the finish line. The varsity eight placed fifth overall.

A Grand Tradition
Harvard's varsity eight has qualified for 11 grand finals in the last 12 seasons. 2008 marked the only season Harvard competed in the petite final and the Crimson has responded with top-five finishes over the last six grand finals.

Last Season at IRAs
The Crimson finished fifth a season ago, behind Washington, Brown, Cal and Princeton. Harvard started strong over the first 250 meters, sitting in third behind the Huskies and Cal. Brown surged over the next 500 meters, as the Crimson held a three-way tie for third with the Bears and Princeton. The three teams were level after crossing the 1000m mark, as the Huskies and Bears held a length lead in the race for first. Brown closed the gap, challenging Cal at the 1500m position as Harvard responded with 500 meters to row. Despite a sprinting effort over the final stretch, the Crimson could not break onto the podium.

HVH Wins
The Crimson V8 remains sits at 6-1 in dual races this season after finishing 8-0 a year ago. Harvard has won 56 of its last 58 duals dating back to April 12, 2008.

In the Launch
Charley Butt, the Bolles-Parker Head Coach for Harvard Men's Heavyweight Crew, is in his 30th season with the Harvard rowing program and second with the heavyweight men in 2014-15. The ninth coach in Harvard heavyweight crew history, Butt became just the fourth coach to lead the Crimson since 1946. Butt led the Crimson to a Sprints title and its seventh-straight sweep of Yale a season ago. 

Up Next
Harvard ends the season against archrival Yale for the 150th Harvard-Yale Regatta Sunday, June 7 in New London, Connecticut.