Boys Crew Swamps Kent; Phillips Defends Dent Oars

The PA Boys Crew team made history last Saturday, as B1 became only the fifth crew in the past thirty years to out-race Kent, and the first crew to ever do so in back-to-back seasons. In addition, B2 also topped the Lions by over one boat-length. The third boat (JV) also raced, but just missed a victory in a race so close that many parents at the finish line thought that it was indeed another Andover victory. The day began with B1’s race. Racing on Kent’s Housatonic River proved to be a challenge for B1 as there was a great deal of current. This, combined with a strong tailwind, made it vital for the crew to row technically well as the conditions were against them. The Blue rose to the challenge. Captain Taylor Washburn ’03 stroked the boat out of the blocks at a high rate of 40 strokes per minute for the first 20 strokes, with the crew settling in to 35 for the first 500 meters of the race. In these first 500 meters of the 1500 meters long race, B1 masterfully took a quick one-length lead. After passing 500 meter mark with such a large lead, the Blue relaxed its stroke rate to a moderate 34, what Coach Peter Washburn had suggested the crew row for the body of the race. Even at 34, however, the Blue managed to increase its lead; Kent was slowing down too. With memories of last year’s Andover victory, the Kent team made a valiant attempt at a comeback with 500 meters to go and took back some ground, but it was too little too late. The Blue crossed the finish line in 4:34, and the Kent Lions trailing at 4:37, failing to avenge their previous defeat. Coach Washburn noted after the race, “I’m very pleased with how [B1] rowed today. [They] rowed very relaxed. There is still much room for improvement, however.” Captain Washburn agreed with that statement: “We definitely can improve our start, and we also will be much faster once we have developed a sprint.” Kent’s late-race charge was due to the fact that the Blue had had only two weeks of water time before the race against Kent, while their Kent competitors traveled to Florida over their spring break and developed their sprint. Only two weeks into the term, this is something Andover has not yet done. Overall, it was a good performance for PA as they showed that even with less time to train they still had the ability to defeat their opponent. In the second boat race, stroke man Di Wu ’04 led the Blue out to a 43 strokes per minute start. This stroke rate is uncharacteristically high for this time in the season, but it was an admirable way to establish an early lead. Moving at a steady pace, the Blue managed a one-length lead by the end of the race. The Blue clocked a 4:44, compared to Kent’s 4:50. B2’s winning time, only ten seconds slower than B1’s, showcases Andover’s depth in its program this year. Speed does not come without skill, and everyone noticed the Andover skill. Technically, the Blue looked very strong, and even Kent’s coach Eric Houston described Andover’s B2 as “tenacious.” The final race of the day for Boys’ Crew was the third boat race. While the Blue got out to a fantastic start and led for the first 1250 meters of the race, Kent quickly ate away at the Blue’s lead in the last 250 meters and overtook the PA by mere tenths of a second in the end. After the race, JV Coach Lia Welsch ’98 said, “It’s very frustrating to see them lose by so little, but they did a great job. B3 should be commended in that three of its eight rowers began rowing less than two weeks before racing Kent.” Thus, Andover’s B3 will most certainly make great strides in the next few weeks. Eighth seater Evan Panich ’03 summed it up best, saying, “All in all, it was a great day of racing for the Blue.”