Call it oarspotting. Harvard edition.
With the Head of the Charles Regatta this weekend, the Gazette has put together a definitive guide to the 19 blade markings used by the University’s crew teams and rowing clubs.
The insignias are, after all, designed to be distinctive so rowers can easily be identified and policed on the water, said Dan Boyne, Harvard’s director of recreational rowing. And like any other identifier — say, team jerseys — the embellishments allow crews to stand out as they propel themselves to victory.
Take the men’s crew, for example. The crimson on their blades forms a pointed tip surrounded by white. If it looks like a flame, it’s meant to, said Joe Shea, the longtime Harvard boatman. The design goes back to the 1968 men’s eight team, which captured the U.S. spot for rowing in the Summer Olympics that year. Sometime before, the team changed the pattern to look like an Olympic flame for motivation. “At that point [after they qualified] all the oars changed over to that design,” Shea said.
The rest of the Harvard designs are mostly inspired by University colors, mascots, and shields distinctive to each School and House. Here’s an overview.