Friday, October 19, 2007

Head of the Charles This Weekend

The Head of the Charles Regatta returns this weekend with its exciting boat races, big crowds of cheering fans, corporate sponsor tents -- and inevitable tearing up of the lovely fields along the southern side of the Charles River at Herter Park and Artesani Park.  One major change from previous years:  there will no longer be a Saturday afternoon practice time, since that short time slot had resulted in as many as 700 shells working out on the river in two hour time window!

The Boston Globe has a series of stories on the event, along with a schedule of the Saturday and Sunday races and a viewer's guide.  

Where to watch it?

My favorite spot is from the downstream base of the Eliot Bridge on the Allston side.  At that location, the boats are nearing the end of navigating a hairpin corner -- and this spot is late enough in the race that many faster boats are trying to pass the slower ones.  (The slower boat is required to yield the inside lane to the faster boat...  but that doesn't always happen.)  The result:  inexperienced, slow boats end up close to running aground on the outer corner at the Cambridge Boat Club, and the occasional boat scrapes the supports of the Eliot Bridge; once I even saw a boat make a much harder collision with the bridge.  Fun for spectators, but not for the coxswains who need a stiff drink at the end of the race.

Lots of people like to stand along the top of the various bridges along these corners and peer over the side:  the Weeks Memorial Footbridge, the Larz Anderson Bridge, and the Eliot Bridge.

In case you didn't figure it out:  avoid Memorial Drive all weekend, and also avoid much of Soldiers Field Road while you're at it.

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