Course records at internationally represented Head of the Charles
Perfect weather conditions helped 20 new course records to be set on the first day of racing at the Head of the Charles in Boston, United States, some of which had stood for 31 years.
The race signals the start of the head racing season in the United States and on day one of the two day regatta on Boston's winding Charles River records were set across the board. Amongst the elite events the top men's single sculls race was dominated by international scullers with Kjetil Borch of Norway winning the single for a second year in a row. Borch set a time of 17:12 for the 4800m distance. This time was 17 seconds faster than the previous course record set in 1982.
In second Borch's Norwegian doubles partner, Nils Jakob Hoff finished in a time of 17:23. Borch and Hoff are the reigning World Champions in the men's double sculls. Head of the Charles regular Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand was third. Olympic Champion Drysdale stated, “These long distance regattas, they’re much more fun, so I’m certainly not as serious about them."
“I love this regatta though because it’s an opportunity that anyone can come and race,” Drysdale said. “You’ve got World and Olympic Champions out there from all different boats, people I don’t get to usually race, so it’s great to have that challenge and that’s one of the unique things about this regatta and it’s what makes it really enjoyable.”
Olympian Jozef Klaassen of the Netherlands finished fourth. Klaassen raced in his country's men's eight at the last two Olympic Games. The first American home was John Graves who came in two seconds behind Klaassen in fifth.
The women's single sculls also saw a new course record. Kathleen Bertko recovered from a mid-race clash with New Zealand's Emma Twigg to win in a time of 18:33. This beat the previous course record, set in 1982 by 12 seconds. United States national team member Bertko moved from heavyweight to lightweight rowing for the 2013 season and finished second in the lightweight women's double sculls at this year's World Rowing Championships. She says the adrenalin after the clash helped her win the race. In second local sculler and 2012 Olympian Genevra Stone finished two seconds behind Bertko. Stone won the event last year.
First non-American home was Olympic Champion Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic who came through in third. Knapkova was just half a second behind Stone. Twigg, a Head of the Charles regular, came in fourth.
Twigg arrived in Boston to find that she was 'the face' of the Head of the Charles. Twigg's image dominated the signage placed around the banks of The Charles. “I think it’s just because I keep coming back,” said Twigg. “I love coming over, I love the people and I love racing at the regatta because it’s challenging and a nice way to start off our season."
Twigg and Knapkova raced again on the second day of the regatta in the championship women's eight race. The crew, made up of five of the top six from the women's single final at the 2013 World Rowing Championships - Magdalena Lobnig (Austria, fourth), Inge Janssen (Netherlands, sixth), Eleanor Logan (United States, fifth), Knapkova (third), Twigg (second) - and also Donata Vistartaite (World Champion in the women's double sculls, Lithuania), Kayla Pratt and Rebecca Scown (bronze medallists in the women's pair). The crew was organised and coxed by Jack Carlson. The crew finished first beating the United States by one second. Canada came in third followed by the University of Virginia and then Yale University.
Lobnig and Janssen had already won one medal when they teamed up on the first day of racing to win the women's double sculls. They finished in a time of 18:05 following a five second penalty. Canada's Antje Seydlitz-Kurzbach and Carling Zeeman were second with Sarah Schwegman and Marika Page of the United States in third.
The men's eight saw the Netherlands come out on top in a time of 14:41. The crew, joined by five-time Olympian Diederik Simon is made up of some of members that finished fifth at this year's World Rowing Championships as well as the Netherlands' reigning European and World Champions in the men's four. In second, and one second back, was the United States national team who were third at the 2013 World Rowing Championships. Local university crew, Harvard were third in a time of 14:43 and two French crews took out the fourth and fifth spots.
More than 9,000 competitors from youth through to collegiate, elite and masters rowers raced at this 49th Head of the Charles Regatta with good weather helping to attract around 300,000 spectators to the Charles River course. The oldest competitor was 86-year-old Mary Liz Stone and 23 countries participated.
Thanks to Adam Anticaglia for content.