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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Boston’s rowing community bands together once again for Head of the Charles Regatta

Texas+Rowing+crews+compete+in+the+womens+alumnae+eights+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+21%2C+2023.+%28Arthur+Mansavage%2FBeacon+Staff%29
Arthur Mansavage
Texas Rowing crews compete in the women’s alumnae eights on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Arthur Mansavage/Beacon Staff)

Crowds flocked to Boston in overwhelming numbers for the annual Head of the Charles Regatta, where the rowing community joined together for a whole weekend of racing.

The Charles Regatta is the largest three-day regatta in the world with more than 50 races and 11,000 competitors, according to organizers. About 2,400 volunteers help organize the race  while upwards of 400,000 spectators watch from shorelines and bridges along the river. For Boston-based rowers like Boston University’s Grace Brown, the event is a source of pride.

“I love how much tradition there is in rowing here and it’s really cool to come to a place that is so rowing-focused,” said Brown. “So it’s really fun. The energy is so great. We get to watch the river fill up and [race organizers] put in the course and everything. And it’s just really special.” 

Across the shoreline, spectators were found cheering, ringing cowbells—a staple for any fan of rowing—and coming together with friends to watch. Many Boston crews were seen supporting fellow locals, with the cheer “Go Boston!” reverberating through the air.

The collegiate events, along with the championship events, are some of the most popular at the regatta, especially because Boston is a major college town. The Boston-Cambridge college rowing teams performed well last weekend. Harvard won the Men’s lightweight eight race and scored top ten in six out of eight races entered. Tufts won first place in both the men’s and women’s collegiate eights, and both Boston University and Northeastern finished in the top of their races for most of their events.

The popularity of the Head of the Charles and regatta weekend itself causes an increase in tourism.

“All these people who come from all over have to stay in hotels and eat in restaurants […] So I think it’s a good feather in Boston’s cap, this and the marathon,” said Henriette Lazaridis, one of the race’s ten committee members.

The Regatta’s popularity is also due to the layout of the course. With the winding nature of the Charles River, spectators can see large portions of the race from one vantage point and the navigation challenges for crews becomes especially entertaining.

“I mean it’s just packed. There are rowers everywhere, so I think it’s probably a huge boost,” said Lynn Wylder, a U.S.-Rowing-certified umpire at the regatta. “It’s the biggest Regatta in the world … you see the whole thing, plus you have the crashes.”

The twisting nature of the Charles River combined with intense competition for boats vying for the best course is notorious for having crashes, with boats running into bridges and each other. Despite this, Lazaridis said the community sports a great sense of camaraderie.

“There’s real sportsmanship on the river that you see,” said Lazaridis. “People come together because they’re so happy to be here this weekend.” 

Wylder said rowing is a sport that supports a great sense of teamwork and friendship.

“I have friends from all over the world,” Wylder said. “It’s big enough to have plenty of friends and small enough that you do know people. It’s the ultimate team sport where you get close to each other.” 

When asked her favorite thing about rowing, Brown said, “My teammates and the community that it fosters and just having people I can trust to support me.” 

As the race comes to a close, many teams are already looking towards how to prepare and how to perform better next year. In the meantime, the buoys are out of the water and Boston’s Charles River is back to usual.

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Iselin Bratz
Iselin Bratz, Kasteel Well Bureau Co-Editor

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