By Jasper Fu
By JASPER FU
As the weekend of the 54th annual Head of the Charles Regatta dawned, thousands of rowers, and hundreds of thousands of spectators, prepared for an intense two days. The regatta — often shortened to the HOCR — has been held in Boston since 1965. The race course begins at Boston University’s DeWolfe boathouse and winds down an infamously challenging three-mile distance to the end. The Charles river becomes crowded as more than ten thousand rowers over two thousand boats make their way down the river. A quarter of a million people fly, drive, or bus into Boston, bringing with them 72 million dollars in spending for the Boston economy.
The race, the largest two-day regatta in the world, sees 10,600 rowers and needs almost two thousand volunteers to staff and manage it. It plays host to rowers of all backgrounds and skill levels, with teams coming from all over the world to row. Over 61 events with rowers from 43 states and 24 countries crown victors over the course of the weekend, with participants ranging from youth to Olympic, club to collegiate. For many, it is a family event, with family members often flying out to see their loved ones compete. Onlookers line the bank of the Charles and crowd the bridges for better views, dragging along more than a few confused Harvard tourists along with them. The Head of the Charles allows the global rowing community to come together in Boston.
This year the Head of the Charles (held annually on the second to last full weekend of October) took place as Boston seemingly skipped fall to begin diving headfirst into winter. The brisk and blustery weather stayed for the most part bright, but over the weekend the entire spectrum of wind, rain, and sun was at various times represented. It was both colder and windier than the same time last year, a fact not lost on rowers and spectators alike.
The regatta kicked off bright and early at 7:45, Saturday morning, with the Men’s Senior Veteran Singles I and II events. It continued non stop throughout the day, with new events launching several times every hour for the next ten hours, for a total of 35 events the first day. The next day saw its start at 7:45 as well, finishing off the rest of the 61 events as well as five Director’s Challenges.
“Head” style races are when boats are launched from the startline on 15 second intervals. The first boat in each race launches at the given start time and other boats in the event chase them down the course. This procedure allows for upwards of 70 boats to compete in each category.
All four Harvard rowing squads competed this weekend. The Lightweight Women’s Varsity four won their event by 13 seconds against 16 other crews. The men’s club eight also won their event with a time of 14:46.85. The women’s club eight also finished first, with a time of 16:57.56. However, their boat was disqualified because of eligibility issues. In women’s championship fours, Harvard came in at 11th place, and in men’s championship eights the Crimson crew placed 5th, but third among the college championship rowers, losing only to Yale and Brown. Women’s championship eights saw Harvard at 12th, and women’s lightweight eights placed Harvard A in 5th place, with a time of 19:11.616, and Harvard B in 9th place, with a time of 21:13.642.
In men’s lightweight eights Harvard A came in 6th place while Harvard B came in at 9th place, but in a close-run race — 4th through 9th places finished within nine seconds of each other, but the 4th place finisher Navy was almost 20 seconds slower than Yale in 3rd. Men’s club fours saw Harvard A placed 5th, with a time of 17:14.536, barely a second shy of 4th place finisher BU. Harvard B placed 37th, coming in with a time of 18:43.546. In men’s lightweight fours Harvard placed 6th with a time of 18:26.620, losing to Yale but edging in a half-second ahead of Penn.
All four varsity squads — women’s lightweight, women’s heavyweight, men’s heavyweight, and men’s lightweight — fielded boats in every collegiate category. Positive results make our crews hopeful for the spring season. Once again, the Head of the Charles brought the rowing community together in Boston and Cambridge for a wonderful weekend of competition.
Jasper Fu (firstname.lastname@example.org) looks ahead to the next community defining sports event – Harvard – Yale!