2015 Head of the Charles

Race Report: M2x 50+

Dave M. had warned us: nobody rows the M2x 50+ category at the Head of the Charles just for fun – they are all dead serious and well prepared. He was right!

We came in 20th out of 33 started (one scratched). In our age bracket we beat 2 other teams. Mission accomplished: We did not come in last.

We faced a stiff headwind (steady 17 MPH, gusting at 25) and stiff competition. The double from Duluth started behind us and showed us how it is done: they rowed a beautifully steady pace and steered the perfect course. They came in 17th – congratulation!

We started the race with an accident right after BU Bridge. The B boat from Malta Boat Club rowed right into us while having an in-boat argument where the buoy line was. We suggest you practice steering with mirrors before you race the Head of the Charles and yield the ideal line to the faster boat.

After passing Malta we knew that we cannot come in last and started to settle in our pace. It felt good till Felix had to learn that Boston bridges are wind tunnels. It was like rowing into a brick wall. You have to really hold on to your oars.

Passing another boat brought spirits back up and we had our best 1000 meters.

2500 meters into the race Duluth taught us a lesson in perfect steering – it seemed they were behind but they were in the bridge first. We apologize for impeding you – hope we did not cost you too much time.

Coming out of the bridge was the worst part – like rowing in molasses against the wind and the fatigue. Tim’s call to focus helped a lot. So did having another boat to chase and subsequently passing the Empacher.

I cannot really remember much of the last mile. Just pushing/pulling as hard as I ever did (and being down to starboard).

In the last stretch we almost caught another boat, but the finish line saved them. The first time in my racing career that I was told that we had 20 strokes to go and passed the finish line after 10 – I like it much better this way.

I am extremely happy with our result. It is the best we could do considering that:

  • Felix absolutely panicked before the start when the waves broke over the stern and the wind pushed us into the basin at below 6 minute splits
  • We could not do any safe warm-up right before the start. Because of that, Tim’s legs cramped for the first 600 yards of the race
  • We had an accident
  • Felix is a novice in stroking and racing

Tim did a super job steering a boat he is too light for, thus having the bow standing out of the water like a sail and the wind pushing us away from the ideal line. If I had to steer we would still be on the course and had accumulated 6 hours in penalties. Thank you for steering.

We thank:

  • Tim’s son and my wife for outstanding logistical and moral support – we had a whole boathouse cheering for us thanks to Marianne’s persuasion skills (the name “CHAOS Rowing” might have also helped)
  • Rick, Melchior, Debra, Avram, and Tara for cheering us on. Rick: thank you for the great pictures)
  • The owner of RowPerfect for letting us use his amazing ergs for warm-up When we will win the lottery we will buy them for the whole club
  • Croker Oars and the Stämpfli Express Team for providing a home base well stocked with advice and Swiss chocolate.
  • Allison for being the best ever team player and helping us to get the boat back to the lake Tuesday very, very, very early morning.