Head of the Charles notebook

Notes: Women’s eights one to watch at Head of the Charles

If you missed the Olympic women’s final in the eights, they’re having a reprise on Sunday with all three medalists — the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands — taking the line in the championship event.

They’ll be taking on a London RC entry that includes medalists from Great Britain and New Zealand as well as a Great 8 of scullers that feature singles medalists Miroslava Knapkova of the Czech Republic, Fie Erichsen of Denmark, and Kim Crow of Australia, as well as Poland’s Julia Michalska and Germany’s Annekatrin Thiele, who made the podium in the double and quad, plus US representative Gevvie Stone, who’ll be gunning for her fourth singles title on Saturday afternoon.

“I love that the women’s eight is stacked,” said US cox Mary Whipple, who’ll have five members from the gold-medal crew, including Harvard grads Caryn Davies and Esther Lofgren, and three from the bronze-medal quad in front of her. Since none of them has competed in a race since London, the back half of the 3-mile pull may be less than artistic.


“There might be a little reality check coming into the Powerhouse Stretch,” reckoned Whipple. “But what they’re going to see is guts.”

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Competing in front of a domestic crowd will be a treat for the Americans, who’ve won their two Olympic titles and five world championships at overseas venues. “We aren’t afraid of the result,” declared Whipple, “because it’s the Head of the Charles.”

More than 100 of the London men’s and women’s participants from multiple countries will be competing in the Head. Counting a flotilla of Olympic reunion boats, the number will be several hundred.

Warming to the task

Back for another double dip is New Zealand’s Mahe Drysdale, who’ll be bidding for his third men’s singles title on Saturday afternoon, and on Sunday will be in the Great 8, which won the championship event in a demi-blizzard three years ago and will be racing again as the Tideway Scullers.

“I hope we get no more snowflakes,” says the Olympic champ. “I’ve never been as cold as that.”


Drysdale, who’ll be defending his singles title, says he’s only been in the boat four times since the Games, “and two have been this week.”

Four of his original Great 8 seatmates are back — Great Britain’s Alan Campbell, Sweden’s Lassi Karonen, Germany’s Marcel Hacker, and Slovenia’s Iztok Cop. Their new American colleague is Glenn Ochal, who won a bronze in the straight four at the Games and will team with Hacker in Saturday’s championship double.

Plenty of company

If Harvard’s two boathouses look like Grand Central Station this weekend, it’s because the Head has become a grand homecoming for Crimson and Radcliffe alums. They and the undergrads will be represented in 34 of the regatta’s events, ranging from championship singles to lightweight fours to master eights to the parent-child double, where men’s heavyweight coach Harry Parker will scull with daughter Abigail. Harvard, which will be defending its men’s title, has three entries in the championship eight event while Radcliffe has two . . . Community Rowing, Inc., whose motto is “Rowing For All,” has been named US Rowing’s Club of the Year, the first organization to win the honor three times. CRI, which also was named in 2004 and 2009, is renowned as a mecca for young urban and adaptive rowers and for its extensive outreach programs . . . By the time the grand master singles take the line down at Boston University’s DeWolfe Boathouse at 8 a.m. Saturday, the skies should have cleared and the weather figures to be fairly balmy for late October with the temperature in the low 70s and a southwest wind at around 12 miles an hour. Sunday promises to be sunny and crisp — 60 degrees with the wind in the same direction.

John Powers can be reached at