Last weekend was the 48th Head of the Charles (www.hocr.org), the world’s largest two-day crew regatta. The men’s team had a four (a smaller boat consisting of four rowers and a cox’n) competing.
First, a little about the race. The Head of the Charles, in Boston, Massachusetts, is easily the championship regatta of the fall season. It is 5K in length, and the course twists its way through six bridges and several major turns. Many people call it the “ultimate coxswain’s race,” and having raced last weekend, I can easily understand why. The bridges make the race more complex: your boat is going full pressure under a span barely wide enough to fit two boats yet other cox’ns try to fit three boats there, and two of the bridges have particularly hairy turns. The Weeks Footbridge turn requires you to set up early and turn about fifty degrees in the space of ten strokes. But even more intimidating is the Eliot turn. Leading up to the Eliot Bridge, in the final mile of the course, is a long, 180-degree turn followed by a hard starboard turn under the Eliot. Many crews have rowed well on this course, but some crews (like the U.S. National team this year) suffer spectacular crashes with either abutments or other boats. I spent the entire week before preparing for the race by reviewing the map, memorizing turns, and fretting about every little thing that could possibly go wrong.
We left on Friday morning and arrived at the course early that afternoon. Because men’s crew doesn’t have any decent four-person shells, our coach, Junior National coach Steve Hargis, borrowed a boat from a club in Pittsburgh. (He’s an amazing man—literally a legend! Everyone in the rowing world seems to know him.) After finding our boat and rigging it, we did a walk-through of the race. The team laughs because I was really nervous—I was hollering at other boats and calling the warm-up like a race because I was so nervous. The team dinner that night was hysterical. Coach Hargis had so many great stories about his days rowing—and coaching—at CGA. (He’s a 1980 alumnus.) Even better was the ten hours of sleep on a soft bed!
Easily the Best Weekend Ever! (Continued)
More about Peter.