Hot year at the Head of the Charles
The warmest day in the 48-year history of the biggest head race in the world, the Head of the Charles in Boston, United States saw a plentiful number of London Olympians racing and some record-breaking times.
Autumn weather at the Head of the Charles in Boston can sometimes be brutally cold, even snowing. But this year temperatures on day one of the two day regatta, got up to 24 degrees Celsius for the almost 9000 athletes competing.
The Head of the Charles features 55 different races with competitors starting one at a time on the 4.8km winding Charles River course. Races range from youth through to club, collegiate, masters, adaptive and championship events.
The first championship event to be raced was the men’s double sculls. Two of rowing’s best over the last decade, Olympic Champions, Olaf Tufte of Norway and Iztok Cop of Slovenia teamed up to win the race. Cop recently announced his retirement from elite rowing but insists that he will continue to stay involved. He and Tufte (2004 and 2008 Olympic Champion in the men’s single) have been friends for years and sometimes train together. Americans Matthew Miller and Samuel Stitt finished second with London Olympic bronze medallist from the single Alan Campbell (GBR) and London Olympic A-finallist in the single, Aleksander Aleksandrov of Azerbaijan in third.
The men’s single sculls was the next championship event with Kjetil Borch of Norway the winner. Borch raced in the men’s double at the London Olympics finishing seventh. Just two seconds behind Borch was former US national team member, Stephen Whelpley and American Tom Paradiso finished third. Fourth place went to Lassi Karonen of Sweden who also finished fourth at the London Olympics in the single. Former Head of the Charles winner and current Olympic Champion in the single, Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand was ninth. Drysdale was happy with his result as he said he had not been training since London. Drysdale indicated that he would be back in training with the New Zealand squad by January.
The women’s single sculls was won by Boston local Genevra Stone. The Charles River is Stone’s training ground and she is currently the top single sculler for the United States. Stone finished seventh in the single at London. Double London Olympic medallist, Kim Crow of Australia was second with American lightweight rower Ursula Grobler finishing third. Olympic Champion in the single, Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic was fifth.
These races all contained international athletes that would join together on the second day of racing at the Head of the Charles in the championship men’s and women’s eight. Stone had gathered some of the best women scullers in the world to race in an eight under her club name, Cambridge Boat Club.
For the men, Alan Campbell’s coach Bill Barry had got together a group of top male scullers to race under the name, Tideway Scullers. Barry put a similar group together to race the Head of the Charles in 2009. That year they won. This year the eight was fourth with three United States university crews ahead of them. University of Washington was the fastest.
The championships women’s eight had a loaded field. Not only was the Cambridge boat full of Olympians, but the United States had a crew consisting of many of their Olympic gold medal athletes. London Rowing Club was a mixture of British and New Zealand Olympians and the London silver and bronze medal crews were there – Canada and the Netherlands.
The fastest boat was the Cambridge ‘Great8’ but a buoy penalty knocked them into second place behind the United States. Last year’s Head of the Charles winners, University of Virginia were third with London Rowing Club coming in fourth. The Netherlands and Canada were fifth and eighth respectively.
Recently adaptive rowing was added to the Head of the Charles programme and American Paralympic bronze medallists in the TA mixed double, Robert Jones and Oksana Masters made the most of it by dominating their race by nearly seven minutes.
Full results: http://hocr.org/the-2012-regatta/2012-results/