Harvard President Charles Eliot once famously decried the sport of baseball for its deceptive practices.

“Well, this year I’m told the team did well because one pitcher had a fine curveball. I understand that a curveball is thrown with a deliberate attempt to deceive,” he said. “Surely this is not an ability we should want to foster at Harvard.”

For Eliot, rowing was one of the true honorable sports. (Tennis was the other.) And at Eliot House, the river House named for Harvard’s longest-serving president, crew is king.

The Eliot House courtyard graciously opens out onto the Charles and the boathouse. Many new residents arrive at the House with no rowing experience, but find themselves drawn to the water in the early morning, seeking that serene feeling when a boat glides across the water, with the team of eight rowers, guided by their coxswain, working as one.

Former House Master Lino Pertile made crew a priority. At the Charles Eliot dinner, Pertile would evoke the ghost of Eliot as a mythical inspiration, with him talking to rowers and offering words of wisdom and encouragement: “Fly like the wind and bring glory to Eliot House.”

Crew cuts

Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • River House

    River House

    Eliot House residents who participate in the Eliot Boat Club, the intramural crew program, arrive at the launch at the boathouse along the Charles River.

  • Dawn meet-up

    Dawn meet-up

    Yonatan Kogan '12 (from second from left), Johnny Bassett '12, Eddie Grom '12, and Austin Glamser '12 take a minute before heading out on the river.

  • Scullied


    Members of one of Harvard's intramural crew teams lift their scull into the Charles River.

  • Leave the shoes

    Leave the shoes

    Rowers' shoes are scattered along the dock while the teams are out on the water.

  • Prepare for landing

    Prepare for landing

    Rowers prepare for their morning outing.

  • Row, row, row...

    Row, row, row...

    Alena Tofte '13 (from left), Caroline McHugh '12, and Fallon O'Dowd row, row, row their boat.

  • Crossing the bridge

    Crossing the bridge

    Rowers cross through one of the Charles' bridges on their morning row.

  • To the waterfront

    To the waterfront

    Eliot House residents haul their boat to the waterfront.

  • Rigging


    Zuzanna Wojcieszak fits the scull back in the boathouse.

  • Morning round-up

    Morning round-up

    Caroline McHugh '12 (from center) and Caroline Cox '14 speak with their fellow rowers.