The ice on the Merrimack River has finally melted, and the Boys Varsity Crew Team is ready for another season of competitive rowing. After a brutal winter on the ergs, the team is excited to finally get out onto the water, no matter what the weather. Having put out the docks this past Tuesday, the rowers braved the cold weather to log their first hours on the river this week. The crew team did not elect a captain last year, so they had to begin the season without any single figurehead. But a strong group of Seniors and Varsity Crew veterans have stepped up to the plate to provide leadership until an official captain is elected later this year. The crew team overcame a seris of setbacks before the season began. Besides having to begin the season without a captain, the team had to contend with an unexpected league decision that eliminated the winter crew basics program. These changes have made it more difficult to guage the team’s potential for success this year. Second-year B1 member Karl Hirt ’06 said, “No one has been able to figure out how we are going to do this year. There are always surprises, but normally we can kind of figure out the general level of success. With this boat we certainly could end up becoming fast and contending for the championship or, on the less desirable side, not be very competitive at all. No one really knows.” The other boats face a similar situation. Very few returning Varsity rowers will be in the second crew, and team members can only guess about their level of competitiveness. In the mean time, the team hopes to commence the season with strength and optimism and to brush aside the cloud of dubiety that surrounds them. Clad in spandex, the boys have ventured out onto the water for their first practices of the season, despite the difficulty of deftly feathering their oars with frozen fingers. Andover will be out on the water for the next few weeks preparing for its first race of the season, which will be an away race against the Kent School. Unlike Andover, Kent, along with other schools such as St. Paul’s and Exeter, holds practices during Spring Break, so the boys expect an uphill battle for their first race. But the members of the Boys Varsity Crew team cannot help but be allured by the possibility of an early victory as the underdog.