Local Teams Compete at Head of the Charles Regatta


The ice-cold wind bites at Natalie Lakin’s bare arms as she takes off her long sleeve shirt at the start line of largest rowing race in the world. Lakin, a sophomore at Community High School and Skyline Crew athlete, is anxious as she awaits the start of the three-mile-long race.

Local rowing teams Skyline Crew, Ann Arbor Huron, Ann Arbor Rowing Club and Michigan Men’s and Women’s Rowing teams participated at The Head of the Charles Regatta on Oct. 18 and 19. This regatta, is the largest one known to the world, with 11,000 athletes and 400,000 spectators according to www.boston.com.

There were outstanding results amongst the Ann Arbor teams. One of Skyline High School’s boats finished in ninth place out of 33 teams in the Women’s Youth Double division, and The University of Michigan’s Women’s Champion Eight finished in fifth place out of 34 teams according to www.regattacentral.com.

Along the three-mile race, there are many spectators who have never rowed before. “Rowing is a beautiful sport, it’s really graceful, so I like to watch the races,” said a Boston citizen, who comes to watch the oarsmen row.

“I come here because I like to see the athletes compete,” a second Boston citizen said. “I like to be supportive of this really large event in my home town.”

This regatta is hosted along the Charles River in Boston, MA. Boston is known as the hub of all rowing in America because of the sheer number of teams that row there. Along the curvy course are multiple collegiate rowing teams’ boathouses including those of the academically rigorous Harvard, MIT, Boston College and Northeastern University.

Throughout the course, are multiple turns and one tight turn that the coxswain or bow of the boat must steer through while avoiding hitting other boats. “The regatta is really cool!” said a college rower from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. “It’s really a battle of not just the rowers, but also the coxswains too. How good they are at managing all the chaos that goes on here.”

There is the chaos of the turns of the course and the stress of all the fans watching you. “It’s freaky,” said Lakin. “It’s nice to have people cheer you on, but also I noticed when we rowed by this one place, and they said, ‘And here’s Skyline Crew from Ann Arbor.’ And I was like, ‘What! No!’ It was terrible.” She knew all eyes were on them and she felt the weight of the world on her shoulders.