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  • About the Head of the Charles

    First held on October 16, 1965, the Head Of The Charles Regatta® is the world’s largest two-day rowing event. Founders and Cambridge Boat Club members D’Arcy MacMahon, Howard McIntyre, and Jack Vincent, created the Regatta on the advice of Harvard University sculling instructor Ernest Arlett. Arlett proposed a “head of the river” race (similar in tradition to races held in his native England) be held on the Charles River. “Head” races are a class of regattas generally three miles in length. Boats compete against one another and the clock, which starts sequentially, approximately fifteen seconds apart. Winners of each race receive the honorary title “Head of the River” or, in this case, “Head Of The Charles.”

    Over the past 48 years, the Head Of The Charles Regatta has grown tremendously. Today, more than 9,000 athletes from around the world compete in 55 different race events. In 1997, the Regatta grew to a two-day event and now attracts up to 300,000 spectators during race weekend in October. Support from numerous boat clubs, colleges and universities, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), as well as 1,400 hardworking volunteers help make the HOCR a continued success year after year.