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A Newbie’s Guide to the Head of the Charles Regatta

With the crisp bite of fall in the air, the smell of fresh cut grass tepid river water, and the spirit of collegiate competition, the Head of the Charles Regatta is back. The Head of the Charles is a uniquely Boston event that dates back to 1965, and features 11,000 student athletes rowing in over 1,900 boats. If you’ve never been to one of these and are worried about not knowing the terminology, or how to watch crew, or what crew is, or what the Head of the Charles is, or why boats float – here are answers to like two of your questions to get you on your way to being an informed spectator.

Q: What is crew, if not a type of hoodless-sweatshirt or what I call my group of bros who wear said sweatshirts? 

A: Crew is basically football except for the points, endzones, offense, defense, and debilitating head trauma. The objective of crew is to row your boat more fast than other teams row their boat, in order to row your boat the fastest and be the fastest boat. This isn’t your 100 meter dash at the Olympics though, the race spans three miles of river.

Q: What time should I start pregaming?

A: Early. You’ll want to pre-game real nice for this. That’s not a knock on the sport of crew, just think about how often you’ve thought, “God I wish I were drunk for this” vs. the number of times you’ve thought, “Gee I sure wish I were sober right now.” Realistically, you’ll want to pre-game. From there, the main races take place saturday afternoon with men’s and women’s, but you might as well just Uber here at 6 a.m., because you don’t want to miss one minute of this action.

Our shitbag staff of laptop-journalists caught up with a member of the crew team in order to get his take. Steven Wagner (‘20) described the race as “a great opportunity to showcase all of the speed we’ve been building this entire year. The atmosphere at such a big event is always really electric. It’s really exciting to be a part of such an extremely competitive race. I know we’re going to perform well and represent Boston College to the best of our ability.” Ah, the promise of an electric atmosphere on the bank of a river, where else would you rather bask in the glory of your hangover than here?

Q: Ok so I’m here, now what?

A: Your first mistake is dressing like this is a football game, it simply isn’t. Swap in that BC crop top for a nice sweater and khakis and hit the city. If you think back to Orientation you’ll remember being taught all the chants for football, but none for crew. What’s a kid to chant? Surprisingly there are wayyyyy fewer “row row row your boat” chants than you’d expect and instead it’s mostly just generic cheering. The real action is had on the bridges where the spectators will congregate with signs. These signs are a great way to cheer on your school, support a friend, or espouse your fringe political beliefs #LegalizeGreyhoundRacing2k17.

The Head of the Charles is a truly can’t miss opportunity to take in the sport of crew and the city of Boston. So come take in “The Nascar of the Charles river”, “The most electrifying 3 miles in river based aquatic sports,” and “Boats trying to move faster than other boats” this Saturday. It’s a truly BC experience and any REAL superfan will be there, so come out and cheer on your school.

P.S. Hit me up if you guys can find any sketchy online gambling site where I can bet on the regatta with credit, I’d take BC 8-1.

Try out our podcast, shitbags!

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