Heading to the Charles

The HBS Boat Club is eager to race in this year’s Head of the Charles regatta, with its lone entrant in the Men’s Club 4 (Approx 1pm on Saturday, 10/20). As many people know, the Head of the Charles is one of the largest rowing races in the world, and draws entries from around the country and around the world. The race is against the clock, with boats sent down the course one by one; faster boats will pass slower boats, leading to inevitable clashes in the narrow bridges, making the race particularly tricky.

This year’s HBS entry, bow 66 in the men’s club four, will include Rob Alloway in his first Head of the Charles. Rob rowed in Cambridge and has never rowed in a Head of the Charles. Elijah White and Michael Linse are familiar with the Charles River, having both rowed at Harvard in their undergraduate years. This reporter rounds out the boat, in his ninth appearance in the Charles. Steve Purdy and Brian Bechard may get subbed in as late switches, if needed.

The race begins at the BU boathouse, which is just below the BU bridges. A fun place to watch is from the front of the Hyatt as the boats queue up for the start. With as many as 70 boats per race and several races in a day, the basin of the Charles is full of boats on race day. The course goes under the BU bridges and around Magazine Beach, up to what’s known as the “powerhouse” stretch – a more or less straight shot up through the River and Western Avenue bridges, past the one-mile mark to the Weeks Footbridge. The race makes a sharp turn through the Weeks Footbridge, past Baker Beach and through the Anderson Bridge, snaking around the sweeping turn to the Elliot Bridge, finishing half a mile down the river. In total the race is 3 miles. Many spectators find the bridges to be the best places to watch the races, especially when several boats try to sneak through the same arch at the same time.

The race used to be held in a single day; demand for entries pushed the event to its current two-day formant, and there are still far more interested rowers than competitors. Without a competitive boat in a prior year, crews are subjected to a lottery. The race is seeded based on the prior year’s competitors, and lottery entries are added on at the end.

Expect to find the big crowds on Sunday afternoon during the marquee Championship events. Saturday is predominantly club events, while Sunday morning holds the masters and youth events. For extensive information, go to