Rowers to Race in Head of the Charles Regatta
BC Women's Varsity Rowing and Men's Club Rowing will Compete in Races on Saturday
Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 23:10
This Saturday and Sunday, Boston will welcome the 49th annual Head of the Charles Regatta, the world’s largest rowing competition. Rowing teams from Boston College will be represented at the race, as well as teams from around the world.
More than 300,000 spectators are expected to flood the banks of the Charles River to watch the Regatta. The race is a three-mile stretch, beginning from Boston University’s DeWolfe Boathouse in Cambridge, and ending at Artesani Park in Boston. There are 55 races total, accounting for more than 9,000 athletes, with 55 countries represented worldwide.
Founded in 1965, the Head of the Charles has a history for being one of Boston’s most beloved traditions. Founders D’Arcy MacMahon, Howard McIntryre, and Jack Vincent created the regatta from the advice of a Harvard University sculling instructor. The instructor proposed a “head of the river” race, which is similar to races held in England. A “head” is typically a race of about three miles. In such a race, boats compete against each other and the clock, with each boat starting after 15-second intervals. The winners of the race receive the title “Head of the River” or in this case, the “Head of the Charles.”
BC will be well represented at the Head of the Charles this weekend. The women’s rowing team is eager to improve from its performance last year, which included a sixth place finish in the Club four-plus event, 23rd in the Alumnae Eight event, and 27th in the Women’s Championship eight-plus race. In 2011, the team placed third in the Club four-plus, earning a bronze metal.
“Energy and excitement on the team is running high with the Head of the Charles this weekend, and I think our team is prepared to come back this year and do incredibly well again,” said coxswain Kylie Hasegawa, A&S ’16.
The men’s crew team, a club sport within the University, competed last year against varsity teams across the country and finished 10th in the Collegiate eight-plus. These championship races attract top competitors from around the world, and present intense competition throughout these two days.
At 12:57 p.m. on Oct. 19, the BC women’s rowing team will begin the weekend by participating in the Alumnae Eight on bow No. 21. The men’s crew team will kick off by racing in the Club Eight event starting from Boston University’s DeWolfe Boathouse at 2:04 p.m. on bow No. 16.
Conquering the Head of the Charles is no easy feat. The course is 3.2 miles of deceptively difficult, hard-to-maneuver, curves and twists. There are seven bridges and countless rowing shells compacted on the narrow river, creating chaos for novice rowers. In order to be successful, a team must display precise speed and form, while staying clear of other boats during the fierce competition.
There is a great deal of preparation required for this world-renowned event. There is a race committee that is assisted by 1,400 volunteers who meet year-round to discuss details of the event.
There are also thousands of dollars of donations from countless colleges and universities, boat clubs, and various sponsors that make the Head of the Charles a success year after year. In the event of an emergency, however, bad weather can lead to cancellation of the competition, despite the distance racers travel to compete.
Over the past 48 years, the race has attracted not only American competitors, but also teams from around the world—600 U.S. and international rowing clubs, colleges, universities, and institutions participate in this two-day event. The competitors are rowers of all ages, and competition ranges from youth clubs to Olympic athletes.
The types of races include youth, club, collegiate, championship, and master races. The championship races are the most prestigious, with the world’s best battling for a medal.