The Wellesley crew team will compete on their home course this weekend for the 53rd running of Boston’s Head of the Charles Regatta. The event marks the start of the Blue’s fall season, and the team will begin the year’s competition on a world-class stage against some of the sport’s most elite programs.
The Head of the Charles is the biggest two-day regatta in the world and fills the Charles River with over 10,000 competitors in more than 50 events. The iconic regatta, which began in 1965, has become a main event in Boston’s fall calendar, drawing tens of thousands of spectators to line the three-mile course.
“The highlight is the sheer number of people who attend from around the world,” explained Kelsey Campbell ’18, a member of Wellesley’s crew team. “Head of the Charles is a very symbolic event as it brings together the entire rowing community to one place.”
The weekend’s races will begin on Saturday morning and will culminate with the event’s most prestigious contests on Sunday afternoon, including the Collegiate Eights and Collegiate Fours.
Wellesley will compete in both events this year, appearing in the Women’s Collegiate Four field for the first time since 2011 and hopes to best last year’s 6th place finish in the Women’s Collegiate Eights race. Last year, in a field of programs spanning all three NCAA divisions, the Blue’s first varsity eight boat finished behind five other Division III teams. The top six teams in last year’s Head of the Charles Collegiate Eights race were the same teams that made up the top six spots at the NCAA Division III Championships last May, where Wellesley finished third in the country behind Bates and Williams.
This Sunday’s Collegiate Eights race will be a key opportunity for the Blue to set a competitive tone for the year as they rejoin Bates, Williams and the rest of Division III’s elites on the water. Despite the pressure, the team is focusing their energy on their own performance rather than the competition.
“We never know what other [Division] III teams are going to bring to the table,” said Wellesley crew captain Meg Babikian ’18. “The best preparation is focusing on pushing each other to be faster from within our program. We want a combination of power and technique to put together the fastest, most cohesive boats possible.”
On Sunday, Wellesley’s first and second varsity eight boats will be in bow six and bow 17, respectively for the Collegiate Eights race starting at 2:38 p.m., while the Blue will hold bow 23 in the Collegiate Fours race starting at 3:08 p.m.