Published June 10. 2013 4:00AM
Ledyard - Harvard hoisted a broom up the boathouse flagpole late Sunday morning, signifying another dominating performance in the historic Harvard-Yale Regatta.
The 148th running of the race between Ivy League rivals featured a familiar result.
For the sixth straight year, Harvard swept every race in America's oldest intercollegiate athletic event, including winning the varsity eight by a comfortable 23 seconds.
"Nothing feels better than winning this race," Harvard coach Harry Parker said. "I thought Yale would stay closer to us earlier in the race. I was pretty sure that we could out-row them in the later stages. I was a little surprised but quite satisfied that we could get away from them early."
Parker, who's in his 51st year, certainly knows the winning feeling by now, as he improved to 44-7 in the annual regatta. The Crimson won for the 13th time in 14 years, extending their overall series lead to 94-54.
Race day weather was superb with sunny skies and a gentle breeze.
Harvard was never really threatened, gradually pulling away after a brief challenge in the first mile and finishing the four-mile, upstream race on the Thames River in 21 minutes, 17.6 seconds. Yale clocked in at 21:41.3.
"You can't really win it in the first mile or so, but you can definitely lose it," senior captain James O'Connor said. "We expected them to be there. We were just relaxed and confident in our own rhythm. When we hit the one mile mark, we just closed the door and made a big push.
"… It never gets easier. That four miles, it (stinks) every time."
Holding a convincing lead, the Crimson resisted any temptation to let up down the stretch. A loud cheer went up from Harvard supporters on the shoreline once their team crossed the finish line at Bartlett's Cove.
Once back at the boathouse, O'Connor grabbed the broom. Along the crimson red handle, the years of the sweeps are written in white.
"We're just going to add another notch to the broom, if you will," said O'Connor, who's from Christchurch, New Zealand. "We hang this up in the varsity quarters."
Experience was on Harvard's side.
O'Connor is one of four seniors on the varsity eight. The Crimson capped off an impressive spring season that included finishing second to Washington in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships last month in Sacramento, Calif.
Since they missed their commencement ceremony to compete in the national championship, Parker planned to hold a "simple" graduation ceremony for his seniors Sunday afternoon at Red Top, Harvard's Gales Ferry home for the regatta.
"They're a really good group," Parker said. "They've raced really well every time they've gone out. It's been a very easy group to coach."
Yale competed with a young varsity crew, featuring four freshmen, two sophomores and three juniors. Six of those athletes had never competed in a four-mile race.
Due to a rule change, freshmen could compete in all races for the first time.
Yale coach Steve Gladstone, who's in his third year, looks forward to a promising future and a better result in next year's Harvard-Yale Regatta. Yale last won the regatta's varsity race in 2007.
"This is a unique distance," Gladstone said. "It would have been certainly a heck of a lot more satisfying to win the race, or be closer. … The program is obviously moving in the right direction."
In Sunday's other races, Harvard won the three-mile long second varsity race in 16:24.8, compared to Yale's 16:30.9. In the freshmen race, Harvard covered the two-mile course in 10:29.5 while Yale finished in 11:00.8.