Radcliffe Crew Claims First Lightweight Win at Head of the Charles

Head of the Charles
Shunella Grace Lumas

The Radcliffe 1V took first place in the lightweight eights race at the Head of the Charles Regatta on Sunday, marking the Black and White’s first victory in the event in the history of the Regatta. Radcliffe finished in 16:58.83, more than two seconds ahead of second-place Wisconsin.

Racing against stiff competition at the world’s largest two-day regatta, Radcliffe crew not only held its own, but took home its first varsity lightweight eights victory at the event in program history.

Following a solid performance two weeks ago at the Head of the Housatonic, the Black and White rowed against boats from around the world on its home course at the Head of the Charles Regatta this weekend.

The heavyweights entered two crews in the championship eights on Sunday, placing seventh and 20th.

On the first day of the regatta, the Black and White entered a boat in the club eights, which took 10th.

Finishing behind Radcliffe’s victorious 1V boat, another lightweight boat placed seventh, while the lightweight fours finished in 13th place.

“Especially since it’s our home course, it brings a whole new level of comfort because you know where you are, you know how much you have left to go,” heavyweight captain Mary Maginnis said. “It’s a huge advantage. It makes the regatta that much more fun.”

For the Radcliffe seniors rowing in the Head of the Charles for their final time with the Black and White, the event was a special one.

“I always say it’s Christmas for rowers,” Maginnis said. “I’ve been rowing here since my sophomore year of high school, so this is my seventh Head of the Charles. It was always a really special regatta for us; it’s always been sort of like, ‘find out where you stand; find out what you need to do, where you need to be’… so it’s probably my favorite regatta.”


In a field of 40 boats that included crews from the London Olympics, the Black and White 1V boat rowed into seventh place overall for Radcliffe’s best finish. The Black and White placed third out of all the collegiate crews, trailing Virginia and Princeton.

The top Radcliffe crew finished with a time of 17:06.15, one second ahead of a Canadian silver-medal winning crew from London. The Black and White 2V boat finished in 17:40.10, placing 20th overall.

About halfway through the race, the USRowing entry that contained past Olympians, including two Radcliffe alumnae, caught up with the 1V boat as the crews maneuvered the Eliot turn.

“Today’s race was definitely a highlight of my entire rowing career,” Maginnis said. “That was just so incredible, being able to row next to [the USRowing crew]; even though they were passing us, we were able to hold them off at points. It was just an amazing experience to row with some legendary women…so that was really exciting.”

Although the USRowing crew finished well ahead of the Black and White, Radcliffe put up a strong fight to the finish.

“The US eight just went right through Yale and Michigan, and then caught up by us, which we anticipated would happen, but we hung in there with them,” O’Leary said. “Clearly, they were significantly faster than we were…and they certainly went by us, [but] we fought hard to make it as hard as we could for them to get by us.”