Women from all over the world make this year's Championship Singles event a "must watch" race at the 42nd Head Of The Charles Regatta. A full one-third of the 32 elite racers in this field are traveling to Boston from outside the US to claim the title of "Head Of The Charles."
The course record for Women Championship Singles stands at 18:45 (mm:ss)--set in 1982 by Virginia Gilder of the former Boston Rowing Club. Under the right conditions, the high caliber of these competitors could be the formula for a new course record. The outstanding depth of international experience from this year's roster is sure to make the Women's Championship Single event a memorable race on Saturday, October 21, 2006 at 3:37 PM (Event 26).
Five out of the top ten competitors from last year's Regatta are back again, including 2005 winner Michelle Guerette (Cambridge MA). Guerette, a US National Team member, won HOCR'05 with a time of 20:01 (mm:ss), putting an impressive 12-seconds between herself and the second place finisher. Her international competitors include two scullers from the Women's Single event at August's World Rowing Championships including the formidable Sophie Balmary of France and Gabi Bascelli of Italy.
South Africa's Rika Geyser is also making her first appearance at the Head Of The Charles, as is China's Zhang Xiuyun. From Canada comes Darcy Marqardt (ONT) and Jane Rumball (ONT), who are rowing head-to-head in this event; in August they rowed as a team in a Pair, winning gold at the World Championships in Eton, England.
Two Norwegians, Martha Helgeland, a University of California alum, and Nina Mjaaland, will be journeying over from Oslo to race at the Charles. Rounding out the international scene is Umida Djabbarova of Uzbekistan.
The American rowing ranks are filled out by familiar names in the US sculling circuit. Current US National Team members include Brett Sickler (DC), lightweight Julia Nichols (PA), and Ala Piotrowski (CT). Piotrowski's teammate, Liane Malcos (Carlisle MA), rowed together in the US quad that competed at Worlds; Malcos will have a home-course advantage, as she's rowed at Riverside Boat Club in Cambridge MA.
The 2004 and 2005 Head Of The Charles Women's Club Single gold medalists, Shannon Kaplan (PA) and Jen Wawrzonek (Cambridge MA) respectively, are both moving up to the Championship event. Two-time local Olympian, Jen Devine (Somerville MA) has also entered herself into the formidable mix.
After her second place finish last year in the HOCR Women's Championship Doubles, Sam Byrd (DC) will be looking to have a similar performance at this years Champ Singles event. Also coming up from Washington DC's Potomac River is Sarah Trowbridge, who is balancing her rowing with coaching at Georgetown University with rowing, and Joanna Rubini, a veteran sculler who has done well on this course before.
It's anyone's guess to see how these thirty-two world-class strong women will do against one other. The caliber and mix of international and local talent will undoubtedly add to the impressive history of the Head Of The Charles Regatta.
For this year's HOCR line-up go to: http://hocr.org/competitors/d1champwom.asp The award's ceremony for this, and preceding events, is on Saturday (10/21) at 5:30 PM at the Rowing & Fitness EXPO at the Finish Area Launch Site (FALS) at Herter Park.