Stroll along the Charles River in the fall and you’ll see colorful blurs cutting across the relatively still water. The blurs are actually crew boats, propelled by everyone from MIT, Boston University, and Harvard students to hobbyists looking to make the best of the cooler weather on the river. For decades, these rowers have been as sure a harbinger of autumn as the changing leaves in anticipation of one of New England’s most premiere events, the Head of the Charles Regatta. First raced on October 16, 1965, the Regatta was founded by Cambridge Boat Club members D’Arcy MacMahon, Howard McIntyre, and Jack Vincent as a way to add a fun incentive to the long fall truing season. The teammates came up with the idea of the race thanks to their mentor, Harvard University sculling instructor Ernest Arlett, a native Englishman, who suggested the idea of a “head” on the Charles River, a term used to describe a three mile race. Sculling boats in different categories compete against each other as well as a stopwatch to claim victory. The style of race, which works so well in England, was perfectly suited to Boston’s river and was adopted easily into the city’s sports culture. By 1997, it had grown so popular that the city made it a two-day event. The regatta starts at Boston University’s DeWolfe Boathouse and ends after the Eliot Bridge (one of 6 in the race) and close to Northeastern University’s Henderson Boathouse. Today, the regatta, the largest one of its kind in the world, includes more than 11,000 rowers from across the globe who compete in 55 events. Wrap yourself in tweed and leather and find a spot along the Charles River on October 21-22 to see rowers from as far afield as Ireland and Croatia (and as close as Harvard) compete in this year’s Head of the Charles.
At Freepoint, you can see the history of Head of the Charles regatta honored in our lobby mural.