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Harvard Loses Head of Charles Regatta’s Top Race After Protest

The University of Washington won the men’s eights rowing race at the Head of the Charles Regatta over defending champion Harvard University following a protest.

The final ruling on Washington’s appeal wasn’t made until almost three hours after the conclusion of yesterday’s race, the premier event of the two-day regatta on the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Washington finished about five seconds faster than Harvard in a time of 14 minutes, 37.27 seconds. The Huskies received a 10-second penalty for rowing outside of a buoy in the final half-mile of the three-mile course and appealed. The umpiring committee and jury deliberated for more than an hour before upholding the appeal after finding photographic evidence that the Huskies’ boat never left the race course, organizers said.

“When there is any doubt in a call, our mantra is to err on the side of the athlete,” John Lambert, the regatta’s managing director for rules, said in an e-mailed statement. “We made a decision that we felt was most fair to all of the athletes involved.”

Washington’s appeal had followed a collision between the Huskies and US Rowing, a boat including three members and the coxswain from the U.S. Olympic team that finished fourth at the London games, organizers said. US Rowing was given a four-minute penalty for failing to give way and finished last while Washington won its third gold in the past five years on the Charles. Harvard finished second.

Women’s Eights

There also was controversy in the women’s feature race.

The Women’s Great8 team, which featured eight Olympic scullers rowing as the Cambridge Boat Club, finished about one second ahead of US Rowing, which had five rowers and the coxswain from the Olympic gold medal-winning boat in London.

The Great8, however, was given a buoy penalty for rowing off the course while trying to avoid a collision with Yale University. The boat’s appeal was denied, giving US Rowing its first gold since 2007 after having won 11 titles in the previous 13 years. The Great8 finished second with the penalty.

Also on day two, Stanford University captured its first Head Of The Charles title in the men’s fours in a time of 16:50.39. The Cardinal finished about six seconds ahead of second-place Washington.

In the women’s race, Canada’s national team claimed its first title since 2006 in a time of 18:32.10.

Organizers said an estimated 347,000 fans attended the 48th edition of the two-day regatta.

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