and entering

Thousands Coming for Head of the Charles

Rowers and spectators alike are captivated every year by the magnificent Head of the Charles.

Everywhere around Cambridge and Boston, thousands of people are coming right now to see the enormous Head of the Charles. The visitors, fit to burst from simply seeing the Head of the Charles, are visibly tense in their anticipation for this time-treasured event.

As many who have experienced the Head of the Charles know, it is modestly sized: its length is average, especially when compared to other heads, which can be huge. But this Head, one of the most famous heads in the world, is special. And to win the Head is even more exciting. John McNally ‘78, a former rower, had this to say about the Charles: “Oh the Charles. I’ve always loved him. Ever since the first time I rode him, I knew that he was something special. And I think it’s like that for most of us who fling ourselves enthusiastically upon the Head of the Charles.” 

The competition is simple: men and women from around the country compete in teams to win the coveted Head of the Charles. “All I want is to win the Head. I want everyone to know that I conquered the Charles, and that we got Head,” rower Tom Langman '16 informed Satire V.

But to earn the trophy of the Head, the teams must begin far down toward the end of the Charles, right at the base. From there, they carefully navigate along the length of the thick, wide beast until the finish line.

“I always get so excited just to do it--to be right on top of it all and to go the whole way,” Kenna Sharif '18 exclaimed in a moment of profound ecstasy. “Of course my favorite part is being next to the rest of my girls while we work.”

Other competitors have expressed similar sentiments about traveling the shaft of the Charles with friends and strangers alike. “I think the most exciting part is seeing all of us right there together. It’s so rare and such a treat when all of us get to be crowded right next to each other, all there to feel the beauty of the Charles around us as we row rhythmically, back and forth, back and forth,” exhales Cleave Thistle '17, smiling deeply at the thought of so many thrilled, adrenaline-rushed college students doing it together, all working toward a common goal--the Head.

And while the competitors work their magic on the wild, tough-to-control Charles, thousands of spectators prefer to watch. For many, watching this competition is an intimately treasured part of their year. For others, this is their first time coming. The Charles flows onward, emptying its fresh contents into Massachusetts Bay, and the energy is certainly palpable. One visiting tourist said, “Even though I’m not actually on it right now, I can almost feel its current pumping through the entire city. It’s magical and a real pleasure to observe happening.”

At the end of the race, the racers push themselves to the very tip of the Head as the Charles's spray washes over their faces. Perhaps no prize is as great.


Image source: Ivy Dawned/Flickr

© 2015