Cornell's varsity eight had lost in the first day of the IRA regatta three years in a row. But they always won the second and third days. Cornell had become a master at using the repechages, or second-chance heats, to its advantage.
Not this year. Princeton's varsity eight had the fastest time of the weekend (6:00.0), winning with Syracuse close behind and Columbia not far back. Defending champion Cornell was a distant fourth, and will have to settle for a petite finals title for the so-called "leftovers" while Princeton and Syracuse take on first-day qualifiers Brown and Navy.
Also vying for the varsity eights title will be Northeastern and Penn, which finished first and second, respectively, in their repechage heat shortly before Princeton's victory.
For Princeton, it was an afternoon of "all-out." With ideal rowing conditions (bright sunshine, calm waters and a light tailwind), Princeton advanced six of its seven shells into Saturday's finals.
The Tigers will have two entrants in the second varsity eights; the squad's normal junior varsity men and the lightweight varsity crew, which is using the IRAs as a tune-up for the Henley Regatta this July.
Navy also has six shells in contention, none of which rowed today since they won their initial heats Thursday. Navy's other two crews--varsity fours (with coxswain) and freshman fours (with coxswain)--failed to qualify today.
Georgetown's lone shell, a freshman fours (with coxswain) crew, finished last in its repechage, nearly 13 seconds off the pace of Penn, which won the event in a time of 6:59.3.