April 18, 2009
PRINCETON, N.J. - On Saturday, the MIT varsity heavyweight crew delivered a shock to the decades-old balance of power in American college rowing by beating nationally-ranked No. 11 Princeton in the 76th running of the Compton Cup regatta. A powerful Harvard crew, ranked No. 4 in the country, took first place by eight seconds.
Since its inception in 1933, the Compton Cup has been a battle between two of the country’s premier heavyweight crews – Harvard and Princeton, with MIT almost always trailing many lengths behind. MIT won the cup once, in 1962. For three years in the mid-1970’s MIT beat Princeton, but still trailed Harvard by margins of 11 to 14 seconds. Other than that, the race has meant only frustration and embarrassment to the Engineers.
That changed today, when Tech finished ahead of Princeton for the first time since 1975 and closer to the winner than at any time since 1963. Harvard started fast and pulled steadily away. Princeton also started fast, and by the 1000-meter mark had established a four-seat lead over MIT. Tech then stopped Princeton’s momentum and began moving back. With 400 meters to go, the crews were level and starting to sprint. Tech’s sprint was better, and the crew pushed its bright red shell ahead of Princeton in the final strokes of the race. The finishing times were: Harvard (6:00.3), MIT (6:08.6), and Princeton (6:09.4).
MIT’s freshman crew, previously undefeated, finished third behind impressive Harvard and Princeton crews.
Tech’s next race is in Cambridge on Sunday, April 26, against Colgate.