Given half a chance, the Head Of The Charles folks can put on a damn good regatta and regatta party. Given what they got today - rain bailing out by Saturday morning, summer-like weather and bright blue sunny skies rolling in by Sunday, and, critically, tailwind conditions for a lot of races - not to mention the overall upbeat vibe in Beantown thanks to Game 6 of the ALCS - the Head Of The Charles is absolutely the place to be on a weekend like this.
With no fewer than 12 crews repeating as champions in their respective events today (and three more defending champs placing second), Sunday did not offer up the surprises as did Saturday, but it wasn't due to lack of good rowing. The pack leaders seemed intent on giving master classes today - once the elite crews starting rolling down the course, margins yawned open - the London Training Center won the women's light eight by over a minute (over collegiate entry Princeton, who had to be happy losing only to the Canadian national team); the men's Champ 4 had USRowing finishing 1-2; the women's champ four went Canada followed by Germany; the men's Champ eight was the US team all the way (followed by collegiates Wisco in a nice return to fall form); and the US squad won the Champ women's eight (and set a course record as well) with six of the nine World Champions on board, followed by Canada a fair patch back.
Times were not as fast as Saturday - while 10 course records fell on Saturday, only a measly five fell on Sunday. Today's new record holders:
- Senior-Veteran (70+) Women's Singles Laurette Rindlaub 25:34.773
- Veteran (60+) Women's Singles Brooke Stevens, Cambridge Boat Club 23:25.662
- Collegiate Men's Eights Trinity College 14:58.705
- Director's Challenge Women's Quad Potomac Open Scullers Quad 17:12.752
- Championship Women's Eights US Rowing Princeton Training Ctr. 15:26.572
Yesterday's tally, for the record:
- Judy Geer in the women's grand master singles (21:30.93)
- Gregory Benning in the men's senior master singles (18:19.76)
- Team Attager in the men's senior master eights (15:43.49)
- 1980 RC in the women's senior master eights (18:00.43)
- Watercat RC in the senior master women's fours (19:48.39)
- Raimund Haberl and Rob Slocum in the senior master men's doubles (18:06.91)
- Joan Linse and Susan Kinne in the senior master women's doubles (19:53.75)
- Michigan in the men's collegiate fours (17:10.68)
- Marquette in the women's collegiate fours (19:19.17)
- Teresa Zarzeczny-Bell and Saiya Remmler in the master women's doubles (19:00.32)
Seen and heard Sunday at the Head:
- Keep it moving, folks? The stretch of water after the Anderson Bridge needed a Boston traffic cop to discourage rubberneckers after a couple crews, including a Green Lake Crew (I'll have to wait for the photos to ID the other crew) got tangled up so badly the two almost hit the shore. Almost every member of the next 8-10 crews had their heads craned out of the boat to watch the carnage - kept it moving folks!
- Save it for the end of the oar: in the Youth four, a girls crew punctuated all their moves down the course by shouting "Go!" on every stroke of every 5, 10, 20? After that, your vocal chords would hurt worse than your legs.
- Fashion police: Is it a regatta violation or just a fashion violation if long ponytails make it impossible to see bow number markers on coxswains' backs? Anyway, long hair is in in among lady tillerfolks this year.
- Here's a novel call, bellowed from the stroke seat in a bow-coxed four: "TOGETHER!" That's one to get across in the first week of practice, or at least before the two-mile mark on the Charles.
- Another call, this one from the dock at Winsor (not by Winsor folks, I'm pretty sure): "ASK THE QUESTION!" Sounds like a good call, although the answer after 2.5 miles might be flying spittle and sputtering.
- A Fordham coxswain showed some Bronx ingenuity after his tiller broke and he completed the race with an arm crooked back over the stern to grab the rudder stem. The crew passed a heap of crews to boot; when he went by me, he was yelling "Yield! Yield!" from a contortionist's position, and had the crew right on line.
- After sinking with the Chinese collegiate eight last year, Amy Sun returned to cox the crew (with seven of eight returning) to cover the course with no more water than comes on board from generic backsplash; the crew started last and passed a couple crews, finishing 20th overall
- The Champ 4 was a seesaw battle between a couple fours who obviously know each other well, but could not have known how the race was unfolding: USRowing bow 4 (the World Champ coxed four rowing intact) led to at the Riverside split mark, USRowing bow 12 led at the Weld split mark, and USRowing bow 4 was back in the lead by Cambridge and took the win by about a length. These crews could probably do the same side by side back in New Jersey and see a different result two out of three times.
- In the 70+ races, some folks are there to race it, some just to row it, and others I would say just to cover the course. No matter the approach and aspirations, whether you're at that age, approaching that age, or even a long, long way off from that age, all of us should be so lucky.
We'll leave it at that for 2007; I'll be posting photo galleries as fast as I can get through all the photos; we should have them all online within a couple days. I hope you have enjoyed this year's coverage of the Head Of The Charles; see you next year!