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The Head of the Charles Regatta

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Head of the Charles Regatta

This year's Head of the Charles will take place Oct. 20-21.

Photo courtesy Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau
The Head of the Charles Regatta is now in its 48th year. This two-day event attracts most of the top crews from colleges, high schools, and clubs worldwide to the Charles River.

The weekend encompasses 55 different events, all taking place amidst the unmistakable beauty of foliage season in Boston. Here’s a guide to making the most of this annual tradition.

When: Oct. 20-21, 2012.

Where: Along the Charles River. The course starts at the Boston University Boathouse and ends up at Artesani Playground in Brighton.

Course length: Three miles

Cost: Free

Parking/Transportation: Driving is not recommended with more than a quarter-million people expected to clog the area. Head of the Charles organizers strongly suggest spectators use public transportation. The course is within walking distance from three MBTA stations – Central and Harvard on the Red Line, and BU Central on the B Branch of the Green Line. Multiple bus routes also travel near the course. In addition, the regatta provides complimentary shuttle service throughout the course.

Road closures: Memorial Drive from Cambridge Boat Club to Western Avenue will be closed from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. JFK Street to Eliot Street will be closed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday only.

History: Cambridge Boat Club members D'Arcy MacMahon, Howard McIntyre, and Jack Vincent established the race first held in 1965, According to the HOTC web site, the race was based on a similar tradition held in England: “’Head’ races, a class of regattas, are generally three miles long-boats race against each other and the clock, starting sequentially approximately fifteen seconds apart. Winners of each race receive the honorary title of ‘Head of the River’ or, in this case, ‘Head Of The Charles.’”

In 1997, the event was expanded to a two-day event. The Cambridge Boat Club is still the primary host.

What to watch for: While the entire weekend provides ample entertainment, it is the last races of each day that might appeal most to rowing enthusiasts. On Saturday, the Championship Doubles and Championship Doubles take place, while Sunday afternoon is reserved for the Championship Fours and Championship Eights. These races are normally highlighted by many of the world’s premier rowers. Click here for a complete schedule of race events.

Where to Watch: Anywhere along the banks of the Charles will provide a great view, but some of the more popular areas to watch include the BU Bridge (at the start of the race), Magazine Beach, Weeks Footbridge, and the Lars-Anderson Bridge. For a map of the course, click here.

More information: For further information on the Head of the Charles, including registration information, visit the regatta’s official web site, or the Cambridge Boat Club. You may also call 617- 868-6200 or email regatta@hocr.org

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