Question of the Day

Hey, I row in NZ and I see everyone talking about the Head of the Charles and I was wondering what exactly is it? And why is it such a big deal?


Head of the Charles is the largest rowing regatta in the world. It takes place over the course of two days in October on the Charles River in Boston, MA. There are over 400,000 spectators and 10,000+ rowers from all over the world competing in singles, doubles, pairs, quads, fours, and eights. (In comparison, there were about 10,000 athletes in 26 different sports at the Olympics this year.)

To the right is an aerial view of what the river/course looks like.

Related: Head of the Charles

HOCR itself is considered one of, if not THE hardest head race due to the complexity of the turns along the course. It can be a total mindfuck for coxswains because if you don’t get a good line on the bridges, it will cost you a lot of time and potentially the race. Weeks Footbridge and Eliot Bridge are the two most (in)famous turns. Weeks is a 90 degree turn to port, leading you past Weld, Harvard’s women’s boathouse and into Anderson Bridge. The Eliot turn is a half mile U-turn to port that takes forever to get around, particularly if you’re not hugging the buoy line. If you take it wide, you’re adding a lot of meters and seconds to the race. If you don’t yield to a faster crew or have a bad line coming into the bridge, there will be collisions with other crews or the bridge piers. YouTube it and you’ll see.

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