The first day of the 49th Head of the Charles Regatta saw some of the fastest times ever recorded in its almost half-century of existence.
It did not take long for the first course record of the day to be broken. In just the fourth race of the morning, the Grand-Master Men’s Singles 50+, Cambridge Boat Club’s Greg Benning’s time of 18 minutes, 15 seconds shattered the course record of 18:54 that had stood for 21 years.
The next seven races would all see records fall – Saiya Remmler in the Grand-Master Women’s Singles 50+; Marin Rowing Association in the Senior-Master Men’s Eights 50+ and in the Senior-Master Women’s Eights 50+; CBC in the Master Men’s Fours; Marin again in the Master Women’s Fours; Michael Smith and Dan Gorriaran in the Senior-Master Men’s Doubles; and C.B. Sands-Bohrer and Linda Muri in the Senior-Master Women’s Doubles.
Other course records were set by the University of Virginia Alumni in the Alumni Women’s Eights; Union Boat Club in the Club Men’s Fours; Brown University in the Club Men’s Eights; Saugatuck Rowing Club in the Master Women’s Fours; and Kennebecasis in the Master Men’s Eights.
Seventeen course records were set on the first day of the 2013 Head of the Charles.
In the first championship race of the regatta, the Men’s Championship Doubles, Americans Matt Miller and Sam Stitt came back from a second-place finish in 2012 to win the title in 2013. Their time of 15:51 broke the previous record of 16:01 set in 1992. Fellow Americans Nick Trojan and Austin Meyer came in second with a time of 15:57 and Union Boat Club’s Bradley Werntz and Otto Stegmaier finished third in 16:37.
The second championship race, the Women’s Championship Doubles, saw a turnover from 2012, as Austria’s Inge Janssen and Magdalena Lobnig took the title in 18 minutes flat. Antje von Seydlitz Kurzbach and Carling Zeeman took second in 18:12, while Americans Marika Page and Sarah Schwegman of Riverside Boat Club in Cambridge, the only returning medalists from 2012, finished third.
The Collegiate Men’s Fours saw the University of Virginia Rowing Association win the title in 16:26, besting Purdue by three seconds and defending champions Michigan by four seconds. Virginia also set a course record by less than half of a second. The Collegiate Women’s Fours was won by Barry University in 18:14, another course record. McGill University came in second in 18:19, while Georgia Tech finished third in 18:40.
The premier races of the day, the Singles Championships, rounded out the official competition on Day 1. Norwegian Kjetil Borch, who came out of nowhere to win in 2012, defended his title in historic fashion, beating a course record that stood for more than 30 years. His 17:12 was 19 seconds better than the mark set in 1982 by Yale’s John Bigelow. Nils Jakob Hoff finished second from bow 4 in 17:23, while 2012 Olympic gold medalist Mahe Drysdale took third in 17:30.
On the women’s side, local favorite and Newton native Gevvie Stone was upset by Kathleen Bertko, coming out of bow 4 to win in 18:33. The three-time defending champion Stone lost by two seconds to Bertko, who set a course record. Both Betko and Stone both beat the previous record of 18:45. Miroslava Knapkova of the Czech Republic finished less than half a second behind Stone, taking third in 18:35.95.
Sunday’s races begin at 8 a.m., and will go on throughout the day. The premier races of the second day, the Championship Fours and Championship Eights, will begin at 2:31 p.m. and 2:54 p.m.
Follow Jeff Pini on Twitter at @jpini441.