STORY BY ED MORAN
PHOTOS BY ED MORAN AND PROVIDED BY IGOR BELAKOVSKIY
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Driving the start launch under the Boston University Bridge early Sunday, Kim Degutis saw the coming sunrise over the Charles River Basin and noted that it was the kind of morning that Nikolay Kurmakov loved to watch unfold.
“He really loved a good sunrise,” Degutis said. “This will be a good one.”
And a fitting one.
Kurmakov, a former Ukrainian and Soviet Union national champion who coached both Simmons University women’s crew and the women’s sweep team at the Riverside Boat Club, died of an apparent heart attack he suffered while rowing on the Charles River Oct. 1. And, on this Sunday morning, the sun was rising with full colors to light an event being rowed in his honor.
The event, which is normally part of the Head of the Kevin series that the Riverside Boat Club runs during the fall as a Head of the Charles practice race was renamed the Head of the Kurmakov for this particular day, and not only did the weather and the sun cooperate, the Rail Road Bridge that serves as the gateway to the Head of the Charles course was painted this week with Kurmakov’s last name in Simmons colors.
In all, 107 Boston area based single scullers sat in tribute for a moment of silence to Kurmakov before racing under his bridge in an event renamed in his honor.
According to Kevin McDonnell, who started and has run the Head of the Kevin series for the last 21 seasons, the decision to dedicate this one of the 2020 races came as the Riverside and Simmons community were struggling with their loss.
“It was a spur of the moment thing,” McDonnell said. “Everyone was just trying to deal with the emotions of losing Nik and it seemed like the right thing to do. I don’t think I ever spoke to him directly about the Head of the Kevin, but I was told this morning that this was one of his favorite things. I didn’t know that.
“We were all just about what the right thing to do and the suggestion came up that we name this Head of the Kevin the Head of the Kurmakov. So that’s what we did.”