Sunday, October 20, 2013

Head of the Charles Regatta -- The Largest Regatta in the World

Boston is a great sports town and yesterday was an amazing day for sports fans -- not only did the Red Sox win their baseball game and made it into the World Series, so many of my students will be very happy this week, but it was also the first day of the two-day Head of the Charles Regatta, which brought an estimated 300,000 rowers, friends, and spectators to the Cambridge/Boston area.

Competitors came from 19 different countries and there were so many colleges and universities represented. This was my second Head of the Charles regatta -- when I was on sabbatical at Harvard in 2005-2006 as a Science Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, I watched from the Cambridge side.

But, yesterday, we watched from the Allston bank of the Charles River and the competitors ranged in age from 14 - 85 years of age. Interestingly, at the INFORMS Conference in Minneapolis, October 6-9, 2013, I attended many business meetings and other events and at a Fora breakfast meeting, a faculty member from Drexel University sat next to me. I took one look at him and asked him whether he had been a rower. Amazingly, he had started rowing while in high school, and had gone to the Head of The Charles -- his boat beat Princeton and Harvard and everyone in his boat got recruited by the Ivy League. He rowed for Princeton and majored in architecture -- so he was learning about operations research and analytics.

My college room-mate at Brown University was on the women's crew (and an Applied Math major, no less) and now my daughter is on a crew team so that was why we were in Cambridge yesterday,

It was fabulous to see so many competitors and colleges represented from across the US!

I even saw several members of the UMass Amherst women's crew team and several of my daughter's friends from her elementary school, The Bement School, and high school, Deerfield Academy, who are on various college crew teams, were also there. Other friends came to watch from various vantage points.

Given what happened at our Boston Marathon  last April 15, there was a lot of police presence and I spoke to several officials about the heightened security.

We even saw the men's Olympic Gold medalist from Auckland, New Zealand, in an event after the Women's Collegiate 4s zip by several boats.

I love the team aspect of this sport from the rowers working in unison to the  coxswains, who are the "persons in charge of the boat, particularly its navigation and steering." They are those with the loud voices and more compact sizes. It is great to see female coxswains directing males in boats. Future, CEOs. I suspect.

We stood with fans supporting many different colleges and universities and saw boats from Bowdoin, Trinity, West Point, Clemson University, the Coast Guard Academy, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, University of Florida, Bryant University, Lafayette College, Vanderbilt, Washington University, Texas A&M, University of Chicago, Vassar, McGill University, Wheaton College, Hamilton College, Wesleyan University, Amherst College, Barry University (which won), and many other schools compete. Several course records were broken.

It was great to see the smiles on the rowers' faces after they competed in a truly special sporting event.

The logistics behind the organization of this event were incredible and the rowers had to row about 3 miles from their launches before starting their 3 mile races. Crew members are super physically fit.

The souvenir stands were fun, too.
Congrats to the organizers of The Head of the Charles for a great event and to all the competitors and coaches, of course!

All the results can be found here.

And for those who were selected to be volunteers (it seems that IT skills were in demand), for 3 hours of work, you got the gorgeous Brooks Brothers jacket, valued at $250 (one of my daughter's friends received one).