While Joan Campbell and Bill Becklean do not do any rowing together--"she won't row with me in a double," he laughed--they were the oldest couple, at 86 and 87 respectively, to race the Charles this year in their separate singles.
Individually, Campbell became the oldest woman ever to race the Head Of The Charles, while Becklean did race both one other 87 year old, Carlos Zezza, and the oldest man in the singles field, 91 year old Christopher Collins.
row2k caught up with Becklean and Campbell at Cambridge Boat Club to ask about the secret to still being able to race the Charles after all these years.
"I will say that Joanie and I are very lucky that we've had good bodies and haven't really had any medical problems," said Becklean.
Becklean passing Cambridge Boat Club, which he calls home
"We're 86 and 87, and the first thing we do in the morning is thank God that we're healthy. We eat well and we exercise. Joanie's got 100 rows in this year, and I've got 75.
"So what's our secret? We keep busy."
"You just do it," added Campbell. "At my size and at my age, you just do it."
Becklean, who coxed the 1956 Yale eight to the Olympic gold medal, usually races the Charles in a double, but did the single this year--and it was the first time he's rowed a single since 1997.
"I rowed in the same boat today that I [last] rowed in 1997, which is a beautiful King wooden single," he said.
Since the pair have seen their fair share of HOCR weekends we asked what, if anything, has changed over the years.
"My first row was in 1994," said Campbell, "so has it changed? No, the spirit is still there. It's still Head of the Charles weekend.
Campbell on the course
"It is a rowing celebration. The spirit has not changed," agreed Becklean. "But it's gotten bigger. When I started, we were launching boats off of Magazine Beach. I think I started working on the Head in 1972, so I've been working on the Head a long time."
"It's a beautiful Regatta, and actually I will tell you the Head of the Charles is one of the best run things that I have ever been involved in. They just do a superb job of running this regatta and, from the very beginning, the whole idea was to run a regatta for the competitors, and that is still the case, which is what makes it truly great. It is just such a fun event.
"And what I love about it is that the biggest events are the youth events," said Becklean.
"I do registration," Campbell added, "and it's so much fun to see people where come from. They come from Japan, from France, Germany, and there's a real energy. It's a great race."
Becklean's activities also include coaching with the high school team from the local public school, Cambridge Rindge and Latin. To celebrate Becklean's solo row this year, the crew kids were let out of school on Friday so they could come down to the river and cheer on their coach.
Becklean's weekend is not quite done, since he will once again cox the "Octogenarian Eight" featured in last year's HOCR coverage in the Director's Challenge event on Sunday--and then, presumably, he and Campbell will get right back to keeping busy on the river to get ready for next year.
Becklean in the Octogenarian Eight last year.