Colgate Rowing Shows Out at the Head of the Charles Regatta

Since 1965, the Head of the Charles Regatta has gained esteem as the ultimate competitive rowing experience. Held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the rowing event is the largest 3-day regatta in the world — hosting over 789 rowing clubs this year. Competitors range from colleges, high schools, and clubs from around the world. This year, the famed event took place from October 21st-23rd, with both Colgate rowing teams making the trip to Cambridge. 

“The Head of the Charles is an iconic rowing regatta that has been going on for almost 60 years. It is one of the only races that brings together rowing from all different levels – high schoolers, collegiate, masters, and everything in between. It really embodies the nature and excitement of the sport, and is by far my favorite race,” said senior women’s rower Carla Perdomo.

The 3-day rowing race has an incredible draw, which contributes to the overall notoriety of the event. The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau states that the race brings about 225,000 people to the Greater Boston area and $72 million to the local economy. The gathering offers lots of food (and beer) vendors, including many local favorites. Senior women’s rower Deanna Michaels discussed her enthusiasm about the race.

“[HOCR] is such an amazing experience. I often joke that it is the one time rowing is relevant, but it really is an electric and vibrant environment. At no other race are there as many supporters as at the Charles. There was never a silent portion of the race, which is really different from the norm.”

Aside from being the largest 3-day rowing race, the Head of the Charles also presents a unique challenge to rowers. Junior men’s rower Harrison Ziegler provided insight into the intricacies of the race.

“What makes the Head of the Charles Regatta so special is the level of skill required to win. A normal rowing race is a 2000-meter straightaway sprint from the start to the finish. However, the Head of the Charles is unique. The distance is more than twice as long as a standard rowing race. The course is not a straightaway and requires excellent steering and maneuvering in order to navigate the course successfully. A crew must pass other boats and go under bridge after bridge, ensuring that while doing so, they maintain their boat speed and avoid any collisions. Crews do not start at the same time as in a standard rowing race. Crews start about 20 to 30 seconds apart from one another, meaning that during the race, you are racing against the clock.”

The women’s rowing team 1v8 boat earned their best finish since 2005 with a time of 17:10.910, competing well against high-quality teams. This finish put them 12th out of 40 teams, atop the likes of Columbia University and Boston University. The 1v4 boat placed 32nd out of 55 teams with a time of 19:46.002. Overall, the women should be very proud of their showing at the Charles. Another reason for excitement: head coach Jessica Deitrick just finalized a contract extension through 2025.

Perdomo elaborated on the team’s impressive finish.

“We had been preparing for this race the entire fall season and it was great to see our hard work pay off. We hit our goals and more importantly, improved significantly from the previous race. Personally, I was very happy with my own performance and I know I definitely gave it my all.” 

Michaels added to this sentiment.

“In all of our events, we were faster from our times last year and beat teams that are usually a toss-up for us! The competition is always tough at the Charles due to how difficult it is just to get a bid to race. It was definitely different being on the water with so many other boats (way more than what we’re used to at a normal collegiate race). We definitely are proud of our performance and are continuing to gain speed.” 

In addition to the women’s team, the men’s team also put on an impressive performance in Cambridge. The men’s Collegiate Eights boat finished with a strong time of 14:46.790, which put them seventh out of 41 teams — being beaten out by Tufts University and St. Joseph’s University by just five seconds. The men’s Lightweight Fours finished 13th out of 16 teams. With a lot of youth on the team, the men’s team should be excited about its long-term future.

I’m proud of the hard work which paid off for our Men’s 8+ at the HOCR. It’s rewarding to watch the seniors, in particular, have such a great race with a strong placement to kick off the racing season.  I feel confident that next year, the Men’s 8+ will continue to build on the success and legacy the seniors left at the HOCR this year. Our team’s performance in the Lightweight Men’s 4+ was not what we had hoped for, but with three 18-year-olds in the boat, we have a young crew with a ton of potential going into next year,” said Ziegler.

With both teams wrapping up their fall season at the beginning of November, these results will look to encourage the Raiders for their spring season.