Charles in Charge

FM’s Guide to Maneuvering this Weekend’s Regatta

Catching crabs is bad in any context, but can be especially so for rowers. For the uninformed, such crew lingo may be startling, but it’s just a sample of what will be heard this upcoming weekend at the 45th Annual Head of the Charles Regatta.

Collegiate, professional and recreational rowers and their hordes of supporters will flock to Harvard Square for the Regatta, the largest two-day rowing event in the world. Any self-respecting Ivy-Leaguer must know how to navigate the crowded spectacle.

The banks of the Charles will be lined with coaches, cheering crowds, vendors, and more. Near Harvard’s Weld Boathouse will be the “Weld Exhibition,” featuring food and freebies from the race’s official sponsors, while a new food court will be set up by the Weeks Footbridge and another at the Rowing and Fitness Expo, on Soldiers Field Road.

As for actually watching the races, any spot along the banks of the river will give you a good view of the action. But those who are in the know recommend watching from Weeks or Anderson Bridges. According to Women’s Lightweight Co-Captain Grace M. Hollowell ’10, races can be won there based on steering.

Lightweight Women’s Head Coach Heather B. Cartwright points out that the bridges can be especially exciting, even for unschooled spectators. “Around there everyone is so close to one another that there are some near collisions and spectacular near misses,” she explains.

When in doubt, look at the boats’ numbers.  “Each boat has a bow number, and if you see one that’s really out of order, they’ve been passing a lot of boats,” advises Amanda C. Pfabe ’10, the other Women’s Lightweight Co-Captain.

Though races take place throughout the weekend, most of the races that Harvard students compete in—clearly the most important—are during the afternoon on Sunday. “The Sunday afternoon races are really the pinnacle of the regatta,” explains Cartwright.

And, by the way, catching a crab refers to an oar cutting into the water at an angle and getting stuck. FM does not recommend catching crabs of any sort in the Charles.