Navigating the Charles River (Boston, MA)

Below are a few maps that I found very helpful when I first started coaching on the Charles last spring. If you’re racing here in the spring, are around in the fall for HOCR, or just starting rowing here, check them out and familiarize yourself with the bridge arches, which ones you can use, which ones you can’t, etc.

Related: (Head of the Charles) Getting to the starting line || Steering through the bridges || Landmarks along the course || Steering around the turns || Race plans || My general race plan

CHARLES RIVER TRAFFIC PATTERNS (You can download a copy of the map in PDF form here.)

CHARLES RIVER BASIN 2K COURSE (You can download a copy of the map in PDF form here.)
Pay particular attention to the arches that are available to use on the Mass Ave. bridge – you’ll see there are upstream lanes on the far right Cambridge side and on the far left Boston side (the Union lanes). The Union upstream lanes are typically only used when the basin is horrific because of wind or there are races happening.

In terms of the 2k course, note where the starting line, finish line, and each 500m marker is. To see them more closely, download the PDF and zoom in. The starting line is at the end of the Memorial Drive ramp just off the Longfellow Bridge, 500m is just before the MIT sailing center, Mass Ave. is 1000m, MIT’s boathouse is 1500m, and the finish line is right before the Hyatt Regency Hotel. There’s a white pole in the ground on shore that marks the finish line and obviously, there will also be a race official with a flag to let you know when you’ve crossed. At the end of the course and across from BU are some large neon markers that give you your points to aim for.

In addition to all of that you’ll see the small blue arrows in the water that denote the traffic pattern on race days (and most other days too). Pay close attention to those and make sure you follow them.

To read up on how to navigate the river during HOCR, check out the posts linked at the top of the post and follow the “Head of the Charles” tag to stay up to date on all future HOCR posts.

Image via // @dosdesignsltd

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