Three Princeton crews finished their seasons with strong showings in the grand finals of the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships in Camden, N.J., June 4.
The women’s lightweight eight opened the stretch of national title races. Princeton entered the regatta with an undefeated record and an Eastern title to its credit. Defending-champion Stanford, rowing in an adjacent lane, held the Western championship and a reputation for grabbing early leads.
True to form, the Cardinal sprinted to the front and eventually held a seven-seat advantage on the Tigers. But Princeton charged back in the final 500 meters, forcing Stanford to find a late surge. The Cardinal crossed the finish line less than a second ahead of the Tigers, who earned silver at the IRA Championships for the second time in three seasons.
The men’s lightweight eight raced next. Princeton, taking the unfamiliar role of underdog after dominating the IRA races in 2009 and 2010, rowed well in the semifinals, challenging Eastern-champion Harvard. But the finale belonged to Harvard and Yale. The Bulldogs edged the Crimson by 0.02 seconds in a photo finish; Princeton placed fifth, 10 seconds off the pace.
For the first time since 2007, Princeton reached the grand final of the men’s varsity eight — the final race of the three-day IRA regatta. The six finalists each made moves toward the front, and the Tigers briefly led in the first 500 meters. Washington eventually separated from the pack to win the race, while Princeton dropped back to sixth, less than eight seconds behind the Huskies.