October 22, 2004

Crews Row at Charles

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The largest sporting event in Boston this weekend won’t be held at Fenway Park, where the Red Sox take on the Cardinals. It won’t even be at Foxboro Stadium where the Patriots take on the New York Jets. Rather, it will be on the Charles RIver, where approximately 250,000 people will watch and participate in one of the largest sporting events in the country.

Often referred to as the mecca for North American crew teams, the Head of the Charles Regatta, held annually, is the biggest rowing competition in North America. This year, the 40th of the tradition steeped race, approximately 7,000 competitors from 15 countries will participate in 48 events on the men’s, women’s, collegiate, club and high school levels. The course follows the windy twists and turns of the Charles River, which separates Boston and Cambridge.

Cornell will be sending five boats of its own — men’s heavyweight and lightweight eight and four man crews in addition to a women’s eight crew.

“The Head of the Charles is a lot of fun and is a great opportunity to get a base idea of where we are at, so we can better prepare ourselves,” said men’s lightweight coach, Todd Kennett ’91. Cornell will pit its top crews against some of the top boats in the world. The competition is fierce and is tough to place in, let alone win.

“Hopefully it will get our competitive juices flowing,” Kennett said.

The Head of the Charles Regatta, first run in 1965, was modeled after the “head races” popular in England. Head races are timed trials where boats start several seconds apart.

Winning crews are determined after starting margins are compared and can don the title “Head of the Charles” for their respective event for the year.

Today, the Regatta has evolved into a rowing festival replete with music, entertainment, and a reunion village hosting alumni clubs. Artists, craftsmen, and vendors will set up shop along the riverbank and footbridges. As spectators line the banks of the Charles, cheering on their respective teams, they will be treated to live music. A new feature of this year’s festival is “Row-A-Palooza,” featuring live music from noon until dusk both tomorrow and Sunday.

As the crews have only been in season for a couple of weeks, it’s tough to gauge their performance yet.

“We are not as slick as we need to be yet, but it’s a tough league, and we have good talent and leadership,” Kennett said.

In the opening race of the season, the Head of the Ohio Regatta on Oct. 2, the men’s heavyweight and lightweight squads finished first and second respectively out of seven teams. The women’s varsity eight crew finished second, by two seconds to Boston University.

Archived article by Jon Hausner
Sun Contributor