I just got back from the Head of the Charles Regatta 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. It is by far the world’s greatest rowing spectacle, and was especially cool this year because of two things: 1) It is a post-Olympic year and all of the stars were there, and 2) The weather was the best I can ever remember, and the crowds were huge, likely in the six figures.
I also can’t tell you the number of people I talked to that were recent converts to CrossFit, especially masters or alumni rowers who needed a short-term conditioning fix to get in shape for the big race.
I raced in the Men’s Alumni Eight on Saturday as the 7-seat of Ever Green Boat Club / Dartmouth Alumni bow #9. We had a hugely powerful boat this year with consistent fitness and a wide variety of ages. The boats in our race varied from recent graduates, to boats stacked with London 2012 Olympians, to boats with older guys, all pulling for their schools. I got pegged for 7-seat, which was a little frightening given that I had not been in a sweep boat since last year’s race. The good news is that we had a great row, bombed down the course at a 33, and finished 19th out of 44, guaranteeing our entry for next year. The bad news is that Michigan (with Olympian Tom Peszek in the boat) crashed into us just before Eliot Bridge and that cost us 20-30 seconds of time to disentangle our oars, get back on course, and exchange some choice words. The crash of course happened right in front of the live webcam (timestamp 3:31:20)!
Here’s a better picture of our boat.
Aside from the racing, the best part of the Charles is the spectacle. Thousands of boats, thousands of people. It never ceases to amaze me that you can run into some legendary athletes just wandering around on their own, no entourage, no handlers, and they are totally willing to shake your hand.
Here’s some snippets:
Video of the Men’s Championship Double from the Anderson Bridge, featuring 6 Olympians in less than 30 seconds.
Video of the leaders in the Men’s and Women’s Championship Singles from an up-close vantage point just before Eliot Bridge – featuring Mahe Drysdale, Lassi Karonen, Gevvie Stone, Kim Crow, and others.
And the weirdest of all, coming out of Cambridge Boat Club after asking a question of the officials, I ran into Sir Matthew Pinsent wandering around by himself. I was walking behind him and saw people going wide-eyed as they passed him. I asked to shake his hand and let him know that he was one of my heroes.
It’s a great memory, and a great motivator. Training for 2013 starts TOMORROW!