The Head of the Charles is an age-old tradition here in Bean Town. Every year since 1965, athletes and tourists alike flock to our city in the hundreds of thousands to participate in the regatta. The races this year will be this coming weekend, from Saturday, Oct. 17th to Sunday the 18th.
With races happening from 8 a.m. on Saturday until 4 p.m. on Sunday, this event is equal parts social and competitive. Men and women from high school to the masters’ level will be racing this weekend. Not only are there high school and collegiate teams, but there are also Olympians and international teams racing. This year, Boston College will have eight boats racing in the regatta.
“It's so exciting because it's one of the only races where there are thousands of people to cheer the boats on and really see what the sport is all about,” Cecilia Milano, MCAS ’18, said.
The races start at the Boston University boathouse on the Cambridge shore, right before the Boston University Bridge. The finish line is just past the Eliot Bridge.
The Eliot Bridge is the best place for BC students to stand, explains varsity crew member, Annie Tenzinger, MCAS ’17, “There's nothing better than coming around the Eliot turn with only three minutes to go and hearing ‘We Are, BC!’”
To spot the eagles in this race, here’s the break down. All of the events have numbers. Every boat in the race has a number put on the bow and stern, called its bow number. The bow numbers are in the order of the boats in that event.
Each boat’s start is staggered, starting 15 seconds after the previous boat. While not neck-and-neck, the boats do often pass each other, making the races that much more exciting. Below are the times and bow numbers for all of the races with Boston College boats:
Saturday, October 17
12:32 p.m.: Men's Alumni 8+ (#32)
12:54 p.m.: Women's Alumni 8+ (#21)
1:35 p.m.: Women's Club 4+ (#16)
2:19 p.m.: Women's Club 8+ (2 BC entries: #13 & #34)
3:54 p.m.: Men's Collegiate 4+ (#40)
Sunday, October 18
2:44 p.m.: Women's Championship 8+ (#17)
3:17 p.m.: Men's Collegiate 8+ (#8)
While not a contact sport in the football or hockey sense, the boats can get pretty aggressive when trying to pass one another.
“Since the Charles is really windy and has a lot of bridges,” explains Tenzinger, “a lot of times boats will collide when passing which is super exciting to watch.”
To get to the heart of the race, take the Green Line into the city and switch onto the Red Line towards Alewife, getting off at the Harvard stop. This will get you right to Harvard square, a quick walk from the Charles River.
“It's just such a high energy weekend. Everyone who's rowing loves the sport and recognizes how lucky they are to race,” Milano said.
There are vendors and food stations all along the Charles and great nooks throughout the Cambridge area. The best vendors will be near the finish line, close to Eliot Bridge. There will be Vineyard Vines, Sperry, Brooks Brothers, Kiel James Patrick, New Balance and many other recognizable names.
“It was probably my favorite weekend last year and in some ways is very similar to Marathon Monday the way the city comes together behind the sporting event,” Milano said.
After the excitement happening all day at the races, the fun will continue into the night at “Drinks by the Charles.” If you’re 21+ then you can dress in your classiest garb and spend your Saturday evening on the banks of the Charles River. The $45 ticket includes beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres.
With over 10,000 athletes participating in races for two days, there is not a dull moment at the largest reunion of rowers in the world. This age-old Boston tradition keeps the city alive and vibrant through the fall.
Making it out to the regatta to support our own Boston College Eagles is a way to not only show your support for your school, but for your home city as well.