The Sport Where Section J Conquered the World: Boat Racing

By Upon entering HBS, every student had a nervous anticipation about how they would measure up to the competition at this school. On a Friday afternoon in early September, the biggest fears of the new members of Section J were realized. When Old J completely crushed us in our first boat race we didn’t think we had what it takes to compete with anyone at HBS. But the members of Old J gave us comfort by telling us this was the only boat race we would lose all year. Over time we realized that we had a section full of talented contributors, and much like our J-predecessors we were brought to this section to dominate this sport. As we began to face competition throughout the first-year class, we realized our friends in OJ were right. Any section that has had a capable group of drinkers has tried to beat us, and they have all failed.

What has boat racing meant to section J? Through Boat Racing the transformational experience as a section has come full circle. Proper Princeton grads and New Orleans debutants have learned to chug beer faster than military guys. Keeping aligned with HBS’ learning model, we have benefited from the lessons brought to us from our classmates’ varied experiences. German students have brought time-tested drinking skills from the Oktoberfest proving grounds. We have taken advantage of the Latin flair in the section and most importantly, have learned nobody can drink faster than Koreans. It has been a completely collaborative learning experience. We have overcome much adversity, including injuries that have required hospitalization, to bond as a section and become unbeatable in our chosen sport.

While other sections may talk about “learning” skills from the first year classes, boat racing has improved our learning experience through real-life experience. While other sections only discussed creating efficiencies in TOM, we had hands on experience in eliminating bottlenecks and running as a well oiled machine. From Strategy, we applied the five forces analysis to Boat Racing and implemented a strategy that has proved unbeatable in test after test. From Finance, we created a non-existent cost of capital by making the losers pay for the beer. From LCA, we dealt with unethical teams who resorted to questionable tactics in an effort to beat us (this is directed specifically at Section E).

This article is dedicated to the “athletes” of section J. You probably question how anyone who partakes in a Boat Race can be called an “athlete”. The term “athlete” is being used more and more loosely these days. When you turn on ESPN and see the Hot Dog eating contest or watch Poker Players smoking cigars and counting their chips on national TV, I don’t think it’s that far fetched to assume that section J could be competing in a televised Boat Race. However it might take a J alum with connections to make it happen.