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Don’t Miss These Great New England Fall Rowing Events
By the time September rolls around, most “fall” rowing programs in our charming corner of the country are well under way. But as New Englanders, the RowingPad team still regards September and October as the autumnal glory days, full of classic local regattas and the global highlight that is the Head of the Charles.
As supporters of rowers local (RowingPad is a proud sponsor of Great Bay Rowing’s juniors program) and international, we follow each of these events with equal enthusiasm and even, when we can, take part in some respectable masters and alumni racing.
Here are some excellent rowing events taking place across New England this fall. We hope to see you at one or more!
CRI Fall Classic Regatta, September 21, 2019
This early-season 3-mile head race on the Charles River hosted by Community Rowing Inc. is in its 10th year. Featuring a buoyed course and supervised by U.S. Rowing refs, it welcomes rowers of all levels to its 40-plus races, including adaptive events. Originally called “Rumble on the River,” the first installment coincided with the organization’s move to its new Harry Parker Boathouse in 2010 and featured rowing plus a battle of the bands.
The course and scope of the event evolved rapidly, and as the group’s website says, “In 2015, the event became the CRI Fall Classic Regatta to reflect its development into the premier early fall rowing event in New England. In 2010, the first regatta had about 40 entries. The 2018 regatta last fall had about 302 entries, including competitors from many New England states and New York, as well as a number of new youth crews.” That’s something to celebrate! If you are spectating, partake of the yummy food truck fare and make sure to check out the beautiful boathouse.
Head of the Merrimack, September 28, 2019
The Essex Rowing Association hosts this fun day of racing on the Merrimack River in Methuen, New Hampshire. The 5K race, which includes juniors, high schoolers, and masters levels and is a regional favorite event among the private rowing clubs in the area, traces some of the river’s most scenic spots along the Methuen shore.
Green Mountain Head Regatta, September 29, 2019
Putney Rowing Club, based out of the idyllic town of Putney on the Vermont-New Hampshire border, hosts this charming and beloved local race along the northern Connecticut River. Why do we say “charming”? Well, the event traces its origins to the 19th century, and despite the illustrious rowing figures who have participated over the years, the awards still feature maple syrup for first place, a bag of apples for second and a gallon of cider for third. Join approximately 350 racers (a fair number of them in wooden boats) for the stake race, launched in intervals, that runs 1.5 miles upstream, around two buoys and back again. If you’ve never seen a stake race, this is truly a fun event for spectating!
The Textile River Regatta, October 6, 2019
This year marks the 40th anniversary of this vibrant head race on the Merrimack River in Lowell, Massachusetts. Schools and clubs from throughout New England, New York and Pennsylvania compete in nearly 60 different events across all levels—so the energy level will be high. You can even tune in to the Textile River Regatta Radio, the event’s own radio station featuring live calls on race day. Check out the stunning photos captured at last year’s event and plan your trip to partake in the live action the first weekend in October.
Head of the Housatonic, October 12, 2019
We’ve seen plenty of New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts regattas in our day, but the Head of the Housatonic Regatta, held in the southern reaches of Shelton, Connecticut, offers a different kind of race format. At this popular annual event, hosted by the New Haven Rowing Club at Indian Well State Park along the Housatonic River, competitors launch from the sandy beach by walking boats into the water (there is no dock). Boats follow a very specific traffic pattern involving colored buoys—we’re intrigued to see how this all works in the thick of the race!
New Hampshire Championships George Dirth Memorial Regatta, October 13, 2019
Can you handle back-to-back weekends of intense fall rowing competition? If the answer is yes, then head to the George Dirth Memorial Regatta, which takes place the weekend before Head of the Charles and has the distinction of being the largest New England rowing event north of Boston. How large? More than 2,000 athletes rowing nearly 400 sculling and sweep boats.
Hosted by the Amoskeag Rowing Club in Pembroke, New Hampshire, the 3-mile head race begins upriver on the Merrimack and finishes at Memorial Park. In addition to providing a wonderful day of racing in a beautiful fall setting, this year’s event honors George Dirth, a former member of the rowing club and varsity rower at Oregon State University who died tragically at age 27, and awards a New Hampshire Cup team trophy for the best overall team performance.
The 55th Annual Head of the Charles, October 19-20, 2019
Want to learn a fun piece of RowingPad trivia? One of our founders, Victor Pisinski, has quite a record with this beloved Boston regatta. The first HOCR was held in 1965. Victor made his debut on the Charles River course in year three…and he has raced in the event many years since! Unfortunately, 2019 marks one of the first years in a while Victor will not be able to compete due to a pesky foot injury, but you can bet he will be there in spirit!
This year’s installment of the Boston head race, the largest two-day regatta in the world, is sure to bring some fresh elements, including a brave push for sustainability and lessening environmental impact, and heightened racing with Tokyo 2020 on the horizon.
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See You at the 54th Annual Head of the Charles Regatta!
Fast approaching this weekend is one of the rowing world’s biggest annual events, and certainly the premier calendar fixture for the New England rowing community: the 54th annual Head of the Charles Regatta. Saturday, October 20, kicks off the action, and members of the RowingPad team will be there to cheer on one of our founders (participating in a masters event), our talented RowingPad customers, and all the other incredible rowers taking on the Charles.
The Head of the Charles began in 1965, as a three-mile head race inspired by racing tradition in England. It has since evolved into the world’s largest two-day regatta, flooding the banks of the legendary Charles River with an estimated 225,000 spectators each fall. This year organizers anticipate 11,000 rowers from across the world, representing more than 800 schools, universities and organizations and 24 countries, to compete in 55 different events for juniors, Olympians, para and masters athletes. The event is expected to generate more than $72 million in spending to the region as visitors descend on Boston and its neighboring towns to be part of history.
Spotlight on: Women’s Eight
Some might say there is no obvious contender for this year’s women’s eight champ race, without one loaded boat of international superstars as often happens in this event. But that doesn’t mean the race won’t be riveting. U.S. Rowing has two entries, and, as Row2K so nicely describes, “divided between those two boats are eight of the nine women who won gold in the eight a month ago at the World Championships, and all four of the women who won gold in the four.”
Then there are the 23 fierce collegiate crews, vying for that surprise win and supremacy among their peers. They seek to do what only three different crews have accomplished in the last seven years: win the women’s champ eights. Who could do it this year? California hasn’t raced HOCR since it won this event in 2015, but they are the reigning NCAA champions. Or maybe Syracuse, with a new head coach and a promising record, could make a strong showing and best them all. We can’t wait to watch.
Spotlight on: Women’s Singles
Near and dear to our hearts here at RowingPad is the women’s championship singles, in which Newtown, Massachusetts, native and Olympic silver medalist Gevvie Stone will attempt her ninth (!!) win in this storied event. A frequent supporter of RowingPad, Gevvie often relies on our pads to keep comfortable and well-positioned in the seat. She has been training hard for HOCR after 14 months of doctoral residency, and we expect only the best from the hometown favorite.
Other top racers in the women’s champ singles include, according to Row2K, “training partner Mary Jones Nabel, a long-time international competitor and friend Magdalena Lobnig, and the woman who represented the United States in the single scull at this year’s world championships, Kara Kohler, as well as Canadian squad single sculler Carling Zeeman, and Felice Mueller, who finished second in 2018 and took the top Lotmann Challenge honors a week later in Philadelphia.” It’s an impressive group of competitors! Read more about their perspectives on the upcoming race and competing against Gevvie in the full Row2K preview.
Spotlight on: Men’s Singles
This is a loaded year for the popular men’s champ singles event. Will current course record holder and Harvard alum Andrew Campbell make history again? He hasn’t won the HOCR since his surprise 2014 victory, but according to an interview with Row2K, he’s determined to make this the year he get’s back to the winner’s circle. Or will one of the international elite racers—reigning Olympic gold medalist Mahé Drysdale of New Zealand or Olympic silver medalist Damir Martin of Croatia or two-time runner-up in this event American John Grave (pictured above)—vying for the top spot come out ahead?
As Row2K summarizes: “The 33 rowers entered in the men’s champ singles race hail from six different countries and include five Olympians, three Olympic medalists, four world champions, and two Head of the Charles course record-holders.” It will all come down to who’s in the zone when the moment arrives—and the whim of the Charles.
What to Know
Making your first visit to HOCR? Prepare yourself with Row2K’s excellent guide to this year’s event. It covers everything from what to wear to how and survive on the roads to where to potentially see the most crashes/oar-on-oar conflict (if that’s the sort of thing you enjoy…).
And it’s worth mentioning that you will find no portable cushion for spectating more comfortable and completely appropriate for the occasion than one of our RowingPad boat or erg pads. If you can’t join in the action this year, at least you can look the part! We hope to see you there!