One of the premiere events of the Head Of The Charles weekend will carry some extra weight for select competitors who are part of the Lotman Challenge Series. In the summer of 2017 the Head Of The Charles joined the Herb Lotman United States Rowing Challenge Challenge inaugural series created by the Philadelphia Gold Cup Foundation. The series is a partnership of the Gold Cup Foundation, USRowing, HOCR, and the Head of the Schuylkill to promote and develop sculling in the United States.
The Lotman Challenge Series consists of fields of 12 men and women participants, racing in the USRowing Elite 1x at Club Nationals, the Head Of The Charles Championship Single, and concludes at the Head of the Schuylkill Championship Single. Points are allocated based on the participants' finishes, with the winners at the end of the series coming away with a $5,000, second place receiving $2,500, and third place receiving $1,000. In the event an athlete receives top points in each event, first place will be awarded $10,000.
The Head Of The Charles, being the second event of the series, is in the unique position of mixing in the Lotman participants into a field that includes elite international athletes, with the added bonus of an extra 3 points per placement for Series participants. The Head Of The Charles Championship Single could be the best chance for Lotman Challenge athletes to put themselves in contention for the top prizes.
The series has drawn the participation of some of the country's top scullers, with the women's field led by Felice Mueller, Ellen Tomek, and Megan O'Leary – all fresh off strong performances at the World Championships in Sarasota. On the men's side, John Graves will look to take control of the series with bow #1 in the Championship Single at HOCR, he can take a commanding lead in the points ranking.
When asked about his approach for this year's HOCR with the Lotman Challenge in mind, John Graves remarked "racing the single at the Charles was always the highlight of the year, but the Lotman Challenge brings new energy, excitement, and motivation to the event and I am really looking forward to it." For some athletes starting back in the field, they will have the added pressure to improve their standings before the series concludes at the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta.
The Head Of The Charles was excited to join the series in the promotion of sculling in the United States. With the successful introduction of the Youth Coxed Quad in the 2016 HOCR, joining a series to promote sculling on the senior/elite level was a natural next step.
Felice Mueller shared that excitement for a series like the Lotman Challenge saying "it's an incredible opportunity for American scullers. I'm thankful to the organizers of the Lotman Challenge, as they see the value in supporting and incentivizing the best scullers in the USA to continue to train and compete."
The Championship Singles events will take place on Saturday afternoon with the Men starting at 4:11 pm EDT and the Women's race starting at 4:26 pm EDT. The current standings going into the Head Of The Charles can be found on RegattaCentral. The series will conclude at the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta on October 28th in Philadelphia, PA.