The Head of the Charles Regatta is without doubt one of the best adaptive rowing races in the world. For that matter, it is one of the biggest rowing events of any type in the world. It is certainly the world’s largest 2 day rowing competition. 10,000 competitors (more than the Olympics) and hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the challenging 3 mile course. It is an iconic event in the world of rowing.
While it draws the biggest names (both champion athletes as well as top clubs and schools) it still has a more of a jovial atmosphere and ethos about it. It’s not really about the winning, but the taking part in such a huge spectacle. The HOCR attracts competitors from all over North America (the Sammamish club from Washington state that rented us our double drove their truck and trailer for a week to get there and then drove it a another week to get home). It also attracts a number of international competitors who get an especially warm welcome.
Ben Marsden and I were the sole international adaptive entry in last year’s event competing in the “Inclusion 2x” (see action photo below). The support from the organisers is incredible. Community Rowing Club’s adaptive coach, Beth Noll, took us out on the course for an orientation row a few days before the event (highly recommended as the race is known for its many collisions with all of the twists and turns in the river combined with numerous bridge arches to navigate through). On the day, we had volunteers on the pontoon to carry our boat for us and help with any and every aspect of preparation.
Lots of clubs have boats available to rent for reasonable prices. Mid-autumn is a relative low season for transatlantic travel so the air fare are pretty reasonable (probably about £500 round trip with some shopping and flexibility in schedule). Food is notoriously value-for-money in the USA. The big thing to sort out is lodging and there are lots of possibilities on that front. I grew up in the Boston area and went to university in Cambridge so I can help anyone with logistics who is thinking about going over for the event.
Deadline for entries is fast approaching – 31 August.