More than 11,000 athletes representing 23 countries have descended on Boston to compete in the 54th edition of the Head of The Charles Regatta, which begins at 7.45am on Saturday.
Among the 2,300 crews who took their final training strokes under clear blue New England skies today were an impressive number of international and Olympic athletes who have come to compete over the weekend.
Headlining the 66 events that will run over Saturday and Sunday are the championship men’s and women’s eights and championship men’s and women’s singles, with all four events attracting a high calibre international entry for 2018.
Cal will be looking to defend their 2017 title in the championship men’s eights event, which begins at 1.55pm on Sunday. It will be Cal’s first race under the leadership of new head coach Scott Fransden, who himself rowed for the Golden Bears between ’99 and ’03.
Up against them will be the US national team eight, coached by Fransden’s predecessor Mike Teti.
“It’s the same lineup as raced at the worlds,” said a laid back Teti on Friday afternoon. “But you know, it’s not as quick as it was last month.”
Teti’s eight will face stiff competition from the Dutch and German national teams who have both sent mens and women’s crews to the 2018 Head of the Charles Regatta.
In the women’s eights the Dutch and German teams will face home favourites in the form of the reigning world champion US women’s crew, who returned to their familiar winning form at the world championships in Plovdiv last month.
Another home favourite, the Newton native Gevvie Stone, is looking to add to her record number of wins at the Head of The Charles this weekend as she leads the procession in the championship women’s singles starting at 4.19pm tomorrow. Chasing Stone will be a strong international contingent including Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig who won world championship bronze in Plovdiv and Canada’s Carling Zeeman who took bronze in Lucerne this summer.
The men’s championship singles race on Saturday afternoon will see yet another showdown between kiwis Robbie Manson and Mahe Drysdale while the newfound German wunderkind and recent swimming convert Oliver Zeidler, who makes his Head of The Charles debut in 2018, will also be a star attraction.
Many will have their money on US sculler John Graves who has won here before. Others to look out for include the Olympic silver medallist Damir Martin – who famously pushed Drysdale to within 1000th of a second in the men’s singles in Rio – and one half of the famous world champion Irish O’Donovan brothers, Gary O’Donovan. The championship men’s singles race begins at 4.04pm on Sunday.