Held annually in late October, this year’s Head of the Charles is expected to attract 300,000 spectators to the 55 different race events — the first at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Check out the full schedule of events.
Head of the Charles 2013 preview
Head down to the Charles River Oct. 19-20 for the 49th annual Head of the Charles Regatta. <br> <br>More than 8,000 rowers from 19 different countries are slated to compete in the three-mile race — the largest two-day rowing event in the world.
Held annually in late October, this year’s Head of the Charles is expected to attract 300,000 spectators to the 55 different race events — the first at 8 a.m. Saturday.<br> <br>Check out the full schedule of events.
The name of the event is derived from European regatta races where race winners were called “Head of the River.”<br> <br>Since 1965, winning rowers have earned the title “Head of the Charles,” updated for the name of the locale.
The races are a series of time trials — competitors race against the clock rather than in head-to-head contests.<br> <br>Boats, ranging from one, two, four, and eight rowers, start in single file near the Boston University boathouse.
Watching a race from start to finish is difficult, if not impossible.<br> <br>Instead of following a boat, most spectators stake a spot and watch the race from a stationary point.
To gauge how a boat is doing, pay attention to the bow number — a placard on the front of each boat. Rowers are set off sequentially every 15 seconds. Since rowers are allowed to pass, if a higher number boat passes a lower numbered one, it means that it is roughly 15 seconds or so faster.
The official winners of a particular event are not determined until a couple minutes after the race.<br> <br>Results are then posted on one of the race boards along the course.
During the event, nearby Harvard Square in Cambridge is abuzz in activity.<br> <br>Only a half-mile walk away from the river, taking the Red Line to the Harvard stop tends to be one of the most popular ways to reach the event.
The river’s banks are packed with onlookers, but because different races pique various spectators’ interests, turnover at viewing locations is fairly regular and finding a good vantage point is not hard.
Most spectators gather around a mile-long swath of shore on the Cambridge side of the Charles River near Harvard University.
A brave few will take to the banisters of the bridges for a seat above the water on Weeks Footbridge in Cambridge.
Spectators line the Eliot Bridge to get a good view of the action on the river below them. Eliot Bridge is one of seven bridges that span the river along the race course, providing excellent vantage points.
But there’s more to do at the Head of the Charles than just watch the rowers.<br> <br>Spectators can check out a Rowing & Fitness expo where outdoor-apparel makers show off their latest gear. In addition, there’s also a Reunion Village that draws former rowers and local alumni to the Boston side of the river.<br> <br>Check out more information about these activities and more events at www.hocr.org.