Michael Sivigny and Gevvie Stone will be back to defend their singles championships in this year's Head Of The Charles Regatta. And both will face formidable competition in doing so.
Sivigny, 38, of Londonderry, N.H., will be looking for a third Championship Singles title. Representing GMS Rowing Center in Connecticut, Sivigny defeated 2002 world champion Marcel Hacker in last year's race by 4.5 seconds.
Hacker will not be in the field this year, but five-time and reigning world champion Mahe Drysdale will. The popular and accomplished Kiwi was the HOCR Men's Championship Singles winner in 2005, an Olympic bronze medalist in Beijing, a member of the 2009 HOCR men's Great Eight, and is the current 2000-meter world record holder. He comes into the 2011 Head Of The Charles building toward the 2012 London Olympics.
"Given this is a pre-Olympic year, I think Mahe will be in better condition coming into the HOCR this fall and if he steers a 'tight course' could challenge Sivigny," said HOCR Executive Director Fred Schoch, who also noted that the 32-year old is likely to enjoy his trip to Boston no matter what happens on the water. "He loves coming to Boston and always wins the after party," said Schoch.
In the Women's Championship Singles race, local Genevra "Gevvie" Stone of the Cambridge Boat Club will be returning to defend the title she earned last year with a 30-second win. Stone, 26, won the single sculls at the U.S. World Championship trials earlier this year and competed in Bled, Slovenia at Worlds.
"Gevvie is a game racer and I would give her better-than-even chances of winning," said Schoch. "She just came off her first World Championships in Bled and learned a lot about herself and racing at a higher level."
Stone's toughest competition this year is expected to be Emma Twigg of New Zealand, who came in third at the World Championships this summer; Margot Shumway, who will also be competing in the Women's Single Sculls at the Pan American Games the weekend before the HOCR; Sara Trowbridge, who finished eighth in the Double Sculls at this year's Rowing World Cup; and local Union Boat Club rower, MJ Gay.
In the Men's Lightweight Singles race, Jonathan Winter is a rower to keep an eye on. Winter is a three-time National Team member and a World Championship Silver Medalist. He has been rowing since 2002 and will represent GMS Rowing Center at this year's Regatta. While Winter looks like the number one seed in this race, Schoch said 2011 Dartmouth grad Phil Henson is a "dark horse to be on the lookout for."
But perhaps the most interesting race to watch in 2011 will be the Men's Championship 2x where several lightweights will pair up to take on 2-time HOCR Champions and the 2011 US Men's 2x, Tom Graves and Peter Graves. Lightweight phenom Andrew Campbell and Harvard Alum, Austin Meyer of the 2011 US Men's Lightweight Eight, will prove good competition against the famed Graves brothers. The Women's Championship 2x looks to be anyone's race with last year's combination of Siobhan Steyn and Catherine Reddick with bow 1. Reddick will also race at the Pan Am games and fly directly from Mexico to Boston, MA to compete.
Nearly 9000 rowers will take to the river October 22-23 in the 47th Annual Head Of The Charles Regatta.
The full event schedule can be viewed at HOCR.org.