Locals to compete in Head of the Charles Regatta

Longmeadow resident Jonathon Moss participates in the Springfield Riverfront Regatta organized by the Greater Springfield YMCA on Sept. 9. Reminder submitted photo
By Natasha Clark

Reminder Assistant Editor

More than 7,500 athletes will gather to participate in The 42nd Annual Head of the Charles Regatta. Starting at Boston University's DeWolfe Boathouse in Cambridge and finishing at Artesani Park in Allston, the Head of the Charles is the world's largest two-day regatta.

Two locals gearing up for the Oct. 21 and 22 competition spoke with The Reminder about rowing and local initiatives to get more people involved.

Jonathon Moss will be competing in the Master's Single. A 19-year rowing veteran, Moss picked up the activity in college. He said he's participated in the Head of Charles about a dozen times.

"[I enjoy] the exercise, competition and the great outdoors," Moss said.

He has participated in numerous events and won gold medals in the Pan American Games, the National Rowing Championships and the Head of Charles.

Coach of Mount Holyoke College's Crew, Jeanne Friedman, started rowing in Philadelphia in the mid 1980s.

She said rowing is a sport that bonds her students and helps "get this group of people in a cohesive unit. It's fun and challenging to help young women find inner strength."

Mount Holyoke currently has 39 varsity crew and 35 novice crew members.

"Rowing is a sport where people row and compete into their 90s," Friedman explained. "It's really easy on the body, great for cardio and people who like to be outside."

There are several local initiatives to increase the popularity of the sport and the availability of the activity to both youth and adults.

Friedman said Holyoke Rows, a non-profit community organization located at Jones Ferry River Access Center along the Connecticut River in Holyoke, is one of them.

They run youth and adult learn-to-row programs and offer adaptive rowing programs for people with disabilities, according to their web site.

Moss is currently developing programs through the Springfield YMCA.

"We're hoping to expand it to more team rowing and encourage some youth programs. We've gotten a good amount of interest," Moss said. "It's a great team sport in terms of teaching the coordination and about relying on another person."

Moss said that rowing is much more popular on the eastern side of the state.

"Many more people are aware [of it] in the eastern part of the state because a lot of colleges row in the Charles throughout the years. Around here it's been a little down played," he explained. "I think there's a good amount of interest as we develop these programs."

He also said that women's rowing has taken off quite dramatically.

According to usrowing.com, "Rowers are categorized by sex, age and weight. Events are offered for men and women, as well as for mixed crews containing an equal number of men and women. There are junior events for rowers 18 or under or who spent the previous year in high school, and there are masters events for rowers 27 and older. There are two weight categories: lightweight and open weight."

Here are a few quick facts about rowing:

Rowing is one of the original sports in the modern Olympic Games.

Rowers were the third largest U.S. delegation (48 athletes) to the Olympic Games in 2000.

Eight-oared shells are about 60-feet long - that's 20 yards on a football field.

Yale College founded the first collegiate boat club in the U.S. in 1843.

To learn more about Holyoke rows, visit holyokerows.org or send an email to its director Stephanie Moore at holyokerows@hotmail.com.

If you are interested in learning about rowing in general visit row2k.com or usrowing.org.

About the Head of Charles

The Head Of The Charles Regatta includes 52 different men's and women's races divided into various age groups and skill levels. Spectators can enjoy food and beverages at the popular Reunion Village while listening to the annual Row-a-Palooza live music festival.

Admission to the race is free. Reunion Village admission is $1 per day to benefit the Regatta's official charities.

The race takes place Oct. 21, 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Oct. 22, 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.