Rowing Locally for the Head Of The Charles Regatta

Oct 16, 2020

Many races and events have gone virtual this year, including the Head Of The Charles® Regatta. In addition to indoor participatory and live racing events, the Head Of The Charles Regatta has offered a participatory on water event. Athletes are encouraged to row 4702 meters on their local courses and submit their best times. Best of all? All proceeds from these events support the Head Of The Charles x Gold Cup Grant Fund to build and sustain diversity in the sport.

Loyalists to the event are looking to complete their racing streaks, while others—like me—are eager to try a new event or give it a first go. The Charles River is a curvy course with a lot of spectators on race day; it’s a true experience. The regatta is so popular that there’s a lottery for entry (or, you can qualify, if you’re of a certain caliber). This year is now officially (or unofficially?) my first time submitting a results in a single for this race. With the security of navigating a familiar waterway and a summer of training in the single, the event has given athletes a great 2020 goal.

Results from this event focus on participatory: there are athletes all over the world racing under different conditions in terms of weather, wind, current, tides and race course. As much as the on water event is participatory, however, rowers are competitive people and you can be sure they will be comparing their times! “Find a good river with a strong current,” recommended my friend and competitor, Catherine, who is rowing her 22nd consecutive Head Of The Charles Regatta this week. So, with a week to complete my meters, I raced some local friends here in Vermont with the goal of sustaining my speed throughout the entire 4702 meters.

My course differed considerably from the esteemed Charles River, with few bridge abutments to dodge, no passing of other boats, and a downstream course. My young daughters, however, still stood on the docks and rang cowbells as my husband and mother-in-law (in a parent/child double) and I rowed past—just to give it a real race feeling! The experience left me breathless and exhausted, even if it was just on my home turf.

Fellow Concept2 employee Judy Geer also took part in the participatory on water event from Craftsbury, Vermont. “What was the same? It was a hard '5k effort' on a fall day. But spectators weren’t lining the shore, there were no bridges to negotiate, no fellow racers to pass—and I had to make a big 180-degree turn in the middle of it because the lake I row on is only 3k long! It was a quiet race where the competition was internal. I found myself envisioning where I would have been on the Charles at any point in the 'race', thinking of the teammates I would have been rowing with in an eight, and remembering bits from the 40+ times that I have raced the Head Of The Charles in the past.”

The Head Of The Charles will continue through this weekend, including a live broadcast event. Athletes will compete live tomorrow, Saturday, October 17 starting at 10 a.m. ET. Anyone who is interested is also encouraged to complete a 4702 meter indoor workout as part of the participatory event. I decided to do this as a workout this week. What fun!

I will likely race on water once more this weekend, with a goal of experimenting with race conditions and equipment. This year, there's opportunities to try again!

Best of luck on finding speed: may you experience a strong tailwind, strong current, minimal obstacles, and a straight course. While we may not all be able to meet up in Boston this weekend, we’re still all connected by a love for rowing. This event seeks to share that love with others who have yet to experience it through donations to the Head Of The Charles x Gold Cup Grant Fund. We hope to see you online!

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