The world’s largest two-day rowing event, the 55th Head of the Charles Regatta, took place Oct. 19-20. Thousands of spectators flocked to the banks of the Charles River to watch more than 11,000 athletes compete. Members of Harvard’s four varsity rowing teams competed in the event alongside teams and individuals from around the world.
The first day of the regatta was clear and sunny, giving spectators watching the race from the Weld boathouse a clear view of the competition. A head race, teams race against the clock on a five kilometer course that starts near Boston University and ends past Eliot bridge.
With nearby streets closed off to cars, the event attracted thousands of fans and many vendors to the festivities surrounding the Charles River. Many spectators donned hats and sweaters to support their respective teams as they watched the competitive events. The bridges spanning the river were full of people throughout the course of the regatta.
Along the river, the woods were stacked with boats upon boats ready to be raced. Teams and individuals of all age groups, from high school through 40+, fought for the chance to row at this prestigious event, with many qualifying in previous regattas. Before the races, teams checked their boats to ensure that they were in top shape and race-ready before speeding along in front of thousands.
Crowds lined both sides of the Charles River, with vendors offering everything from Head of The Charles gear, to photo booths, to the chance to try urg machines. Local nonprofits also had booths, raising money and awareness for their causes. A variety of food options were avaliable throughout the regatta as well.
Donning old-fashioned flat caps and smiles early on Sunday afternoon, the Men’s Lightweight Varsity Four pushes off from Newell Boathouse into the Charles, preparing to row towards the race starting line. The team finished an impressive second, mere seconds behind the University of Pennsylvania.
Radcliffe’s Lightweight Four races to the finish, coming in 8th place. Harvard’s two women’s crew teams compete as Radcliffe and wear black and white instead of crimson. The teams retain the Radcliffe name as an homage to Radcliffe College, the all-female counterpart to Harvard College until the two schools officially merged in 1999. According to their website, the women’s crew teams voted against adopting the Harvard name and colors in 1976 in order to honor the women who started the teams. They are the only varsity teams that still compete as Radcliffe.
The rowers in one of Harvard’s Heavyweight Championship Eights dig deep as they pass under Weeks Footbridge on Sunday. Sporting the trademark “H” across their chests, the boat raced into 6th place. The US National Crew Team captured first and second place in the race.
Radcliffe’s Heavyweight Championship Eight passes Newell boat house after racing under the Anderson Memorial Bridge. The boat placed 8th out of the thirty-two boats.
Despite being the Regatta’s most sustainable event yet, with “zero single-use plastic available for purchase,” the event saw some protests from Divest Harvard proponents. On Sunday afternoon, a group from Divest Harvard held banners over the side of John W. Weeks Bridge to call on Harvard to divest from fossil fuels. The banners were up for about fifteen minutes. University spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain referred The Crimson to previous statements from University President Lawrence S. Bacow, who has repeatedly defended administrators' decision not to divest.
This year's regatta saw more than 11,000 thousand rowers compete in more than 70 races. Next year's Head of the Charles will occur Oct. 17-18.