The midweek weather forecast was for a mean headwind on Saturday and a fun tailwind on Sunday - they got the concept right, but the days backward. Another great (if brisk) fall day was a bit more challenging to enjoy on the water than on land as a stiff NE wind made for a strong headwind over much of the course, and a fair bit of chop when it finally turned into a tailwind as the course wound toward the finish line. Still, four crews managed to post record times (albeit in early or relatively new events), but the proceedings made for a great HOCR weekend overall.
Looking back a day briefly, our photo gallery from the Sr. Masters Eights on Saturday is a little short on a few crews, as our photographer Erik Dresser set up to take photos from the railroad bridge at the start as row2k has for years, and was subsequently threatened with arrest for trespassing. He missed about half the crews; sorry folks; we'll nearly go to jail to post your photos for everyone to see, but thankfully not quite!
Saturday's win in the Champ singles by Gevvie Stone extends the Stone family success at the Charles in a way that likely extremely few others have done; both her parents Gregg and Lisa won the Champ singles, and now offspring Gevvie joins the group. As the Charles logs more years, we're sure to see more kids duplicating their parents victories, but a three-for in one family in the single is going to be tough to match.
New records on the weekend: Eight records were broken on Saturday, when conditions were more or less favorable, or at least not inhospital to records:
On Sunday, only three records fell, very impressive given the mean headwind greeting crews heading down the powerhouse stretch; even when the wind became a tailwind as the course wound around in the other direction, the chop on the water made it tough to pick up a lot of speed. The records came in the earlier events, when the headwind wasn't quite as fierce, and in the youth double, which is a relatively new event:
The Canadian women's eight lived up to the prediction yesterday that they would have a good run down the course; they won the Champ 8 by over 12 seconds over the Olympic silver-medalist Dutch crew. In Beijing, the Canadians were in medal position before the Dutch crew sprinted from fourth place all the way into second in the last 25 strokes; perhaps the Canadian crew had to even up the score a bit today.
The University of Washington won the men's Champ eight by a second over Brown, who was followed by the French Pole France aviron Nancy eight, Cal-Berkeley, and Northeastern. The Molesey crew including GB national team members (including gold medalists) finished sixth. I don't recall the last time the top two crew in the Champ 8 were collegiate crews, or when four of five were collegiate crews. (Wisconsin ran the course in a top five time, but dropped to 30th overall due to a one-minute penalty.)
The women's Champ 8 had no penalties whatsoever for all 31 crews; the men's Champ 8, on the other hand, had fully five minutes of penalties among 37 entries, and that was after a few penalties were eliminated upon appeal.
At a post-Olympic HOCR, it's not unusual to see national teams crews ceding the Head of the river crown; today the USRowing men's Champ 4 was the only US squad entry to take gold.
Some of the official results display the St. Catharines clubs as St. Catharine's - as I was quickly admonished when I made the same error some years ago, there should be no apostrophe. (My apologies for the geography lesson in a rowing story.)
One perennially successful (and multiple champion) single sculler expressed relief over finally not having made the guaranteed entry cutoff for next year. After so many years in the single on the Charles, a year "in a team boat actually sounds like fun."
Lots of folks rowing in the Director's events take the opportunity to costume up (or down, as the case may have been in the quad that raced in nude suits last year), and this year was no different. One quad raced with cardboard shotguns sticking out of the coxswain's seat, and a giant plackard on the back that read "I CAN SEE RUSSIA FROM MY STERN;" another politically-inclined crew from Florida named itself "The Hanging Chads." The bowman of another crew brought a cigar with him in the boat, and had a smoke on the row home. Not everyone was making light, however; one of the quads had a video camera on a long stem attached to the bow deck, one would guess in order to video their entire race.
The women's youth double was occasion for a different kind of collision; the Albany Rowing Center crew plowed the first bridge and snapped the blade off an oar; the crew hobbled over to the BU dock, borrowed a set of oars, and was allowed to row the course, albeit not for time or place. Of course we'll have some photo of the carnage when we post the galleries from the event.
Even as that crew was going by, the locals at CBC were incredulous that the Peterson family quad was missing buoy after buoy going around the Eliot Bridge turn; the crew included chief referee Pete Peterson, who has been known to rule the rulebook with impunity. In the end the crew had a full minute of penalties, and I can't say those watching the show weren't amused...
Meanwhile, the aggressive passing rule from last year has been eliminated; given the controversy surrounding so many of the several instances when the rule was invoked last year, this is a really good development and welcome return to form and tradition, phew.
Shabby comment of the weekend: "Hey, they got passed by two crews; that crew sucks right now."
There were mashups run amok coming into the final turn of the racecourse; things got so bad that a hole was poked in one boat, and oar jabbing and jousting contests took place in both the youth double and Men's Champ four alike.
The regatta enjoys the volunteer efforts of at least 40 riverside announcers, each of whom young, snarky types, stats wonks, and then guys like Tony Antin, a Rutgers rowing alum, who often sounds like an old-time baseball radio announcer. I believe Tony is old enough to have listened to plenty of baseball on the radio, so knows the territory; he dropped some real gems announcing from the roof of the Cambridge Boat Club. Tom Tiffany and Jerry Murphy took the time to mention row2k and pull me over for an interview; great to talk to you, gentlemen.
Finally, on Saturday, Betsy McCagg gave birth to a new child from a room in the Mount Auburn Hospital overlooking the Eliot St. Bridge turn. Figure it's only a decade and a half or so before they're in the Parent-Child double on the kid's birthday?
And with that good news we close out our coverage of the 44th running of the Head Of The Charles. I hope you enjoyed our coverage; of course our photo galleries will be posting steadily until we can get through all the photos, so keep checking back to check out the show. Thanks for watching and for reading.