Head of the Charles 2017

Held on the penultimate weekend in October, the Head of the Charles is advertised as “the world’s largest two-day rowing event.” It serves as a grand test of endurance for more than 11,000 athletes participating in 55 different races. As spectators lined the Charles this fall, they saw not only college shells, but also two boats from Groton. The race offers competition and, for the victors, the title “Head of the River.”


Groton was represented by members of both girls and boys varsity crew teams. Nailah Pierce ‘18, Roselle Lovell-Smith ‘18, Layla McDermott ‘18, Sophie Conroy ‘19 rowed the girls’ quad, coxed by Olivia Potter ‘18. The girls finished in 16th place out of 30 competitors in the Womens Youth Coxed Quad division, with a time of 19:28 minutes.


In the boys’ boat, Lucy Anderson ‘20 coxed rowers Richie Santry ‘18, Tom Steere ‘18,  Liam Calder ‘18, and Michael Senko ‘18. The boys finished 64th place out of 86th competitors in the Mens Youth Fours, with a time of 18:06 minutes.


Preparation for a difficult three-mile course was challenging.  “Each person on the boat has a different afternoon schedule,” said boys crew captain Richie Santry ’18,  “so, we’ve only been able to get on the water twice so far.”  Nonetheless, Richie saw a potential opportunity before racing on Sunday:  “We know we probably haven’t had as much practice as a lot of the other crews, but we’re excited to race.”  


The girls, for their part, trained for the regatta in the afternoons through a Faculty Sponsored Activity (FSA).  Their preparation was rigorous: girls crew captain Nailah described a daily practice routine of two hours on the water with an emphasis on endurance. “It is essentially like doing long distance running instead of doing sprints,” she said. Notably, the girls competed for the first time last year and finished tenth out of 30 boats. Their time qualified them for re-invitation.


The course itself is known as much for its difficulty as its beauty. Weeks Bridge, for example, was originally built for traffic between Harvard Business School and the main campus in Cambridge. Boats now pass under it during the Head of the Charles, and must execute a sharp turn there, complicated further by heavy spectator noise. Such difficult features are typical of the course, but Tom Steere ‘18 expressed confidence in Groton’s ability to navigate them. “The difficulty of the Nashua has trained the boats well for the Charles.”