HAMILTON, New Zealand. – The Harvard men's heavyweight alumni eight became the first men's crew from the United States to win the Gallagher Great Race on the Waikato River over the weekend. The Crimson standouts led from the start and maintained a solid lead to be the first Americans in the 14-year event to claim the Harry Mahon Trophy.
The Gallagher Great Race pitted university crews from Harvard, Cambridge, and host Waikato in the unique 3.85km boat race, which sees crews row upstream into the strong currents on the Waikato River, negotiating their way under three bridges.
The three crews sprinted at the start line, with Harvard taking prime position on the east bank, Waikato only eased off after Cambridge closed the gap. Midway through the race the young Waikato crew made another charge at Cambridge and were successful at moving themselves into second position, only to be out-sprinted on the finish line.
Harvard captain James O'Connor '13 said his crew had led from start to finish and that "it was a good a race as they could have hoped for," especially as they had spent just four days rowing together.
"The Gallagher Great Race is great because no one gives up. It's a fierce contest right until the end. No one can take a stroke off. We worked hard and it's great to get the win, first and foremost for each other, and secondly for Harvard," O'Connor said.
Cambridge and Waikato universities had some early tussles off the start line, with Waikato taking over second position for the majority of the race. However, in the final straight Cambridge made the most of their advantage on the west bank and sprinted for the finish, beating the home crew by 0.17secs, and relegating them to third.