BY CHIP DAVIS
PHOTO BY SPORTGRAPHICS.COM
“It was an epic year for the Head of the Charles,” said longtime executive director Fred Schoch. Despite a sponsorship downturn and fears of a looming recession, the show went on in 2022, attracting more than 11,300 competitors to three days of racing.
“We saw record crowds. We had record numbers of athletes and numbers of boats,” said Schoch. “The Friday morning racing has kicked into full gear, and there were a lot of smiling faces from the veteran and grand master scullers that participate in that. They enjoy being first now and no longer consider themselves being pushed aside.”
Even though it’s the championship of nothing more than the Charles River, the Head of the Charles Regatta is truly America’s fall rowing festival. Glorious autumnal weather and a helping tailwind made this year’s event even better, but the foundation of the event’s continuing success is a professionally-run operation that works year-round with a huge volunteer organization. “Volunteers are the lifeblood of the event’s success,” confirmed Schoch.
Enclosures, a “reunion village,” and tents and booths featuring the rowing industry’s top brands (as well as national brands such as Vineyard Vines and Peloton that see the value of associating with the sport of rowing) combine to produce a busy “gotta be there” atmosphere that makes the annual fixture a rowing-community magnet. Regatta organizers sold out of the wristbands required to buy beer, and the size of the crowds drew the concern of the state police.
“[Regatta clerk] Chris Richards was saying, ‘When the state police want to shut you down, it means that people are having fun again,’” said Schoch.
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