For many students, the Head of the Charles annual regatta represents an easy way to participate in a Boston tradition. The 5-kilometer race extends from the boat basin near the MIT Bridge and weaves up river, past Western Avenue and JFK street. It is as if the city brought the world to our doorsteps, complete with live music, hot cider, great spectators, tall fit athletes in spandex unisuits, and of course, lots and lots of rowing.
The Head of the Charles Regatta is the world’s largest 2-day rowing event. It began 42 years ago, and today draws an estimated 300,000 spectators, with over 7,500 athletes who participate in 26 different race events. This weekend, five of those athletes represented the HBS Boat Club and raced in the Men’s Club Four. Nikhil Kacker (OI) was the coxswain, and the rowers were, in order from stern to bow, Matthias Osthoff (NG), Junichi Sakishima (OG), Ryan Weinberg (NF) and Michael Walsh (OJ).
The regatta was more exciting than usual for this year’s HBS crew. The crew was formed just one week before the event, and had only 3 opportunities to practice prior to the race. In fact, Matthias and Ryan successfully juggled early morning practices with an FRC midterm, the results of their TOM midterm, plus their regular Learning Team meetings while Nikhil was a dancer and a main organizer of the Diwali show replica breitling. So, in addition to being nervous about racing in such a marquee event, the rowers had to surmount multiple distractions in order to quickly synchronize their rhythm and adjust to a new coxswain.
Come Saturday, the men were blessed with near perfect rowing conditions. Besides a slight headwind on the course, the temperature settled around 60§F, and the skies were the clearest they had been for days. Tons of spectators lined the banks of the Charles and cheered especially loudly as the four with the infamous dollar signs painted on their oars raced by. Unfortunately, another crew steered into Nikhil as the boat passed underneath the Weeks footbridge, forcing the crew to stop momentarily in order to narrowly avoid a bad collision. As a result, they gave up precious seconds that would have allowed them to place higher in the rankings. The team did well overall, finishing in a little over 20 minutes.
All five members of the HBS Crew reported that they had a great experience racing. Maybe they were a little rusty and under-practiced, and they may have forgotten how long 5 kilometers can be, but to quote Junichi, “It’s been quite a long time since I’ve raced in such a big event, and I forgot how nice it feels to be cheered by so many people.”
QUICK ROWING FACTS
Rowing was the first intercollegiate sport contested in the United States. The first rowing race was between Harvard and Yale in 1852.
There are two general types of rowing: sculling and sweep-oar. A sculler controls an oar with each hand, while in sweep-oar rowing each rower has only one oar and is either a port or a starboard, depending on the side of the boat from which her oar extends. The boat, or shell replica watches uk, is sometimes steered by a coxswain, who sits at the back of the vessel and manipulates tiller ropes attached to a rudder; the coxswain also directs the speed and rhythm of the crew’s strokes.
“Head” races, a class of regattas, are generally five kilometers long. Boats race against each other and the clock, starting sequentially approximately 15 seconds apart. Winners of each race receive the honorary title of “Head of the River,” or in this weekend’s case, “Head of the Charles.”
Rowing is one of the original sports in the modern Olympic Games; Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, was a rower.
Eight-oared shells are about 60-feet long-that’s 20 yards on a football field. Singles, on the other hand, may be as narrow as 10 inches across, weigh only 23 pounds, and stretch nearly 27-feet long.
Physiologically, rowers are some of the most physically conditioned athletes of any sport. Cross-country skiing and long distance speed skating are comparable in terms of the physical demands the sport places on its athletes.
Sources: www.hocr.org and www.usrowing.org