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Vol.25, No. 18 Mar. 31, 2000

Fans and Alumni Cheer Lion Crews as They Nearly Sweep in Seasonís First Regatta

By Liz Griffith

The nearly 200 nostalgic alumni who returned to Columbia for the Annual Crew Awards Dinner on March 25 first enjoyed a victorious day of races as the Lions all but swept Coast Guard and Marist in Columbia's first regatta of the season.

That afternoon, before a dinner in Low Rotunda, the heavyweight men's and most of the women's boats crushed their opponents in front of cheering spectators who lined the Manhattan side of the Harlem River along Columbia's home course.

With an excellent time of 5:41.0 for the 2,000-meter race, the men's varsity heavyweights beat Marist by more than 11 seconds and Coast Guard by 14.5, to capture the Jim O'Hara Cup.

After a rocky start due to a Circle Line tourist boat bearing down on the rowers, the Lions recovered quickly and settled into a strong rhythm.

"Although we rushed the start, we tried to relax for the first 1,000 meters before slamming [the other crews] in the second half of the race," said Andrew Danberg-Ficarelli, CC'01.

The women's varsity boat also won by a large margin over the visitors, with an impressive time of 6:06.0, more than 17 seconds ahead of Coast Guard and more than 25 seconds ahead of Marist.

Raegan Johnston, CC'02, who at the evening dinner received the 1999 Outstanding Novice Award for her performance last year, declared their win "a great race. We executed our race plan even better than we thought we would."

Tara Plochocki, BC'02, agreed: "It was comfortable but really aggressive. We've been training so long, it felt wonderful just to get out there and race."

The evening dinner was arranged by the King's Crown Rowing Association (KCRA) and the Department of Physical Education and Athletics. The event provided a chance for former teammates—from the 1940s to 1999—to meet, reminisce and learn more about the present program.

J. Eric Nelson, CC'80, master of ceremonies and the recipient of the KCRA's Alumnus of the Year award, discussed why he finds crew so unique.

"Rowing is used in corporate advertising as the epitome of team sports, and it really is. To make it effective, everyone has to show up" or no one can row, he said.

During presentations and speeches, other alumni said their Columbia rowing days were their fondest memories. Reggie Thayer, CC'47, showed "The Legacy of the 40s," a video of news clips of photographs of Columbia rowers from that era.

Rowing alumni also heard a construction and fundraising update on the crew program by Dave Filosa, CC'82, president of the KCRA. A new, state-of-the-art rowing facility is being built on the location of the former boathouse near Baker Field, at West 218th Street.

Other speakers emphasized the KCRA's gratitude for the numerous eager supporters of the project, including John Reeves, director of Physical Education and Intercollegiate Athletics.

Though zeal for Columbia crew was manifest throughout the day, excitement reached a climax in the last few moments of the dinner when Nelson, the master of ceremonies, won an impromptu auction for an old wooden Columbia oar— for five thousand dollars.