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Yes, Virginia, There Are Boats at the Head

By Rik Geiersbach

Sunday's running of the Head of the Charles Regatta marks the 25th anniversary of the largest single-day rowing event in the world.

The first running of the race--a three-mile test of endurance rowed from Magazine Beach east of B.U. upstream to Herter Park just past the Eliot Bridge--was held on October 16, 1965, and attracted less than 100 boats. Since then, the regatta has mushroomed into an enormous New England tradition that attracts thousands of athletes from all over the world and more than 250,000 spectators each year.

This year's field is the largest ever, with more than 250 colleges and athletic clubs entering more than 925 boats. All in all, some 3800 participants will make their way up the course--and just as many potential entrants were excluded from the Head by an application process based solely on last year's results.

The rowers, ranging in age from 14 to 89, will compete in one of 16 separate singles or crew races in Club, Youth, Lightweight and Championship divisions. The action will begin at 8:40 a.m. and conclude at 5 p.m.

Among the teams planning to compete are men's and women's eights from the Republic of Lithuania. The Lithuanians formally competed for the USSR in the Olympics and have already won several regattas in the United States.

In order to become "The Head of the Charles" (contrary to popular belief, the word "Head" refers to the honorary title given to the race's winner), the Lithuanians will have to get by the numerous powerful crews entered by Harvard and Radcliffe.

On the men's heavyweight side, Harvard has entered four crews that hope to repeat the success they had last weekend at the Bausch & Lomb Invitational in Rochester, N.Y., where the Crimson grabbed top honors over such notables as Yale, Penn and Brown. However, the heavies--upset by Wisconsin in last year's NCAA finals--have shuffled their lineups since last weekend in hopes of garnering the Revere Cup awarded to the squad that wins the most points for the day.

The men's lightweight squad returns a strong crew from last year and hopes to build on its impressive finishes this fall at the Head of the Connecticut and the Head of the Hudson. A threatening Princeton crew was unable to enter the Head this year, which furthers the Crimson's chances for success.

Black and White

On the women's side, Radcliffe will enter five boats. The Black and White has already seen moderate success at the Head of the Connecticut and the Head of the Hudson.

"The emphasis of the fall has been on building team unity and just having fun," senior oarswoman Lisa Hinds said. "We're getting serious, but everybody is still just trying to enjoy themselves."

Head races differ significantly from spring races, in which *** boats race a straight 2000 meters side by side and the winner is the first shell to cross the finish line. In a head race, the boats are started sequentially, starting every 15 seconds and racing against the clock. Each boat's seeding is displayed on its bowball.

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