STORY BY DANIEL SCHLEY/HOPR ORGANIZING COMMITTEE
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Sunday, September 10th, saw the running of the fourth annual Head of the Ponds regatta on beautiful Mashpee-Wakeby Pond on Cape Cod. Founded during the pandemic year of 2020, and proudly proclaimed by the regatta organizers as the #1 regatta in the country (because it was the only regatta in the country), the Head of the Ponds has grown to be a well-established and highly regarded regatta known for its demanding complexity. Said regatta chair, Heri Sontgerath, “The Head of the Ponds is not for the faint of heart.”
The Head of the Ponds is considered by those who have dared to row it as the most challenging racecourse in the country. “In rowing terms it’s a proverbial marathon.” commented this year’s Men’s Single champion and three time Olympian, Jim Dietz. “It’s like rowing the Head of the Charles, turning around and rowing it again!” In addition to the distance, the Head of the Ponds can prove to be a navigational nightmare as competitors traverse two lakes – “kettle ponds” to the cognoscenti – which are connected by a 500 meter passage and which rowers have to locate while rowing backwards! Once through the passage, competitors then circumnavigate three uninhabited islands and an obelisk of a peninsula before heading back through the passage on to the finish line. Given the challenging nature of the racecourse, competitors are required to have prior head racing experience in a major US regatta in a single or in the bow of a double or quad. Charting a course with the flexibility of an owl is a definite benefit.
Head of the Ponds racecourse
Proving once again that age has no boundaries (while the rest of us are in denial), Jim Dietz in his 60th year of rowing won the Men’s Single with a raw time of 35:49 and an adjusted time of 28:55. Molly Tyson, rowing for the Duxbury Bay Maritime School, won the Women’s Single with an equally impressive, adjusted time of 32:47. Gayle Simmons and Jeanine Boyle took honors in the Women’s Double with an adjusted time of 37:55, and in the fastest net time of the day, Ed Geyh and Alden Bumstead seared the racecourse like a porterhouse steak in a near-record adjusted time of 28:47.
The Head of the Ponds is a volunteer effort with 100% of the net proceeds donated to local organizations including the Wampanoag Native American tribe in Southeastern Massachusetts for whom Mashpee-Wakeby Pond is a centerpiece of their ancestral land and carries cultural and spiritual significance, and the Save Mashpee-Wakeby Pond Alliance.
Pictured Below: Coveted trophies for first, second and third in the Head of the Ponds.