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Despite Rain, Thousands Gather for 58th Head of the Charles Regatta

Spectators flocked to the banks of the Charles River for the 58th Head of the Charles Regatta.
Spectators flocked to the banks of the Charles River for the 58th Head of the Charles Regatta. By Zuzanna M. Kowalski
By Xinni (Sunshine) Chen and Aran Sonnad-Joshi, Contributing Writers

More than 11,000 athletes and 200,000 spectators from across the globe gathered in Cambridge this weekend for the 58th annual Head of the Charles Regatta, the world’s largest three-day rowing event.

Rowers from more than 25 countries, such as China, Ukraine, and South Africa, registered for more than 55 events — including collegiate, alumni, and high school races. Teams competed in a winding three-mile upstream race on the Charles River.

Stephanie K. Eble ’19, a former member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Heavyweight team, raced the alumni eight on Saturday and said it was a pleasure to be back on campus.

“It’s always good to get a group together — folks that are coming from the U.K., from all parts of the country,” Eble said. “So it’s a great kind of reunion event for us.”

Eble complimented the newly renovated Weld Boathouse, which reopened in April after more than a year of renovations.

“It’s always a pleasure to be back in Weld,” Eble said. “Especially with the new renovations, to kind of admire everything that’s changed, but also the history that they’ve maintained — I think it’s awesome.”

Meredith E. Kent ’24 and her partner Monah Javidan-Nejad ’24 said they were only notified that they were participating in the Women’s Collegiate Doubles two days prior to the race.

Nevertheless, they won.

Speaking right after her victory, Kent said she was “so honored to be able to represent Radcliffe.”

“It’s my last race as a senior, and never thought I would be racing the Charles, a, sculling, and b, coming out with a medal,” Kent added, referring to rowing with two oars rather than one. “I’m super happy about that.”

Many rowers were supported by their family and friends. Lucas Grellmann came to the regatta this year to watch his mother row with Community Rowing, a Boston-based rowing club.

“She’s done it for the past two years so each year we come out,” Grellmann said. “It’s just fun.”

Despite the rain on Saturday, crowds of spectators gathered to watch the races from the river banks and bridges.

Spectator Christopher Quartararo, who returned to Head of the Charles for the first time in years, said this year’s race was quieter than he remembered.

The event was “not as boisterous as some years, not as much yelling from the shore,” Quartararo said.

While most were concentrated on the races, some organizations used the regatta as a chance to raise awareness for various causes. The Harvard and Yale Heavyweight rowers jointly raised more than $4,000 for the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation in support of brain cancer research.

Others, such as Emily Reiling — a development manager at the Charles River Watershed Association — focused on the environment.

Reiling said she was there to inform attendees about the health of the Charles River watershed.

“A lot of the work we do supports recreation on the river and making it healthy, like reducing invasive plants and reducing public health risks,” she said.

Chris Penta, who worked to collect recyclables with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation during the race, said that spectators should be more conscious about the trash they leave behind.

“I love doing the cleaning,” Penta said. “I hate to say it, but it’s a lot of mess out there.”

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CambridgeFront FeatureMetroFeatured ArticlesCrewHead of the Charles 2023