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There is nothing like an old grad to inspire a college crewman to his best effort—particularly when the old grad is an admiral in the U.S. Navy and the crewman is a midshipman at Annapolis. Up to a month ago, the best the 1965 Navy varsity crew could produce in a so-so season was one second place, well behind the supermen from Harvard (see cover) in the Adams Cup. Then Rear Admiral Draper L. Kauffman, an oldtime (1933) Navy oarsman himself, took over as the new superintendent of the Academy.
Whether it was the advent of an old crew buff as top man or merely the fact that spring exams were over may never be determined. The simple fact is that, once the Admiral appeared, Navy began to look alive. That very day, the Middies went out on the Severn River and beat the crew sox off the University of Wisconsin. By last week, as the best college boats in the land (minus two) assembled on New York's Onondaga Lake to contest the Intercollegiate Rowing Association's annual championships, Admiral Kauffman's influence had spread through the fleet like a call to duty from John Paul Jones himself. Sweeping the lake clean, Navy's freshman and junior varsity rowers each won their events by a length and a half while Navy's varsity held off a driving finish by heavily favored Cornell to regain a championship it had not won in more than a decade. "I can't say that I'm unhappy," said Navy Coach Paul Quinn.
There was a moment toward the end of the tense varsity race when it seemed to observers on the shore that Cornell was bound to catch up to the Middies. Then, 12 strokes from the finish, Cornell's No. 6 oar caught a crab. In any case, said Cornell Coach Stork Sanford, "I think we used the wrong strategy altogether. We never thought Navy would improve as much as they did."
The suspense that marked the last 30 seconds of the 15-boat varsity event at the IRA gave the rowing on Onondaga Lake a spice of excitement that was completely lacking on Connecticut's Thames River, where the other big rowing event of the week was taking place. Harvard and Yale men have always insisted on ignoring the rest of the rowing fraternity by holding a private championship of their own and referring to it as simply The Boat Race. In its 100th edition last week, however, The Boat Race was a boat race in name only. Starting off in a literal but nonetheless symbolic clap of thunder and Hash of lightning, Harvard's varsity pulled away from an outclassed Eli crew at the start and simply kept rowing at an easy pace until the end of four miles when they crossed the finish line more than 10 lengths in the lead.
Since Harvard has been the main topic of the current rowing season, its absence was felt at the IRA.
"It does seem a shame," Coach Jim Lemmon of the deposed champion California Golden Bears said, "that such a fine crew as Harvard wouldn't come and join a blue-ribbon classic like this. I know they have their traditional meeting with Yale, but it seems to me that when 15 schools feel it right to meet for laurels in one afternoon the other two should join the competition."
NEVER BEFORE-AT HARVARD OR IN HISTORY
Fine crews are no rarity at Harvard, where the rowing tradition goes back officially to 1852, and who knows how far beyond that in legend. Any sunny afternoon on the banks of the Charles River in Cambridge, Mass. you're likely to find some Crimson crew buff willing to sit for hours on the worn yet sturdy green benches of Newell Boat House and rhapsodize about the great Harvard crews of the past: the famed 1931-1933 boat stroked by Gerry (Killer) Cassedy; the varsity eights launched by Coach Tom Bolles in 1939, 1947 and 1950, which between them beat most of the best crews in the country and England as well; the 1959 crew coached by Harvey Love and stroked by Perry Boyden, which went to Henley and brought the Grand Challenge Cup back to Cambridge for the fourth time in 45 years. But even the most enthusiastic bench-sitter has difficulty finding enough superlatives to describe the Harvard crew that beat Yale last week—almost effortlessly—by one of the largest margins in the 100-year history of this ancient rowing rivalry.
Rank outsiders like bluff Dutch Schoch, who coaches rival Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania's Joe Burk, dean of current crew coaches, have called this year's Harvard eight the finest crew of all time. Says Schoch, "There are other crews in the country just as strong, just as smooth, but Harvard's better." Says Burk, "This is the greatest American crew there has ever been, college or club."