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head of the charles notebook

Newton’s Gevvie Stone faces stiff competition in bid to repeat

Women’s eight rowers from Old Dominion University get ready for practice for this weekend’s Head of the Charles regatta in Cambridge.

david l. ryan/globe staff

Women’s eight rowers from Old Dominion University get ready for practice for this weekend’s Head of the Charles regatta in Cambridge.

Newton native Gevvie Stone will her hands full on Saturday afternoon in her bid to become the first woman to win four consecutive championship singles titles since Anne Marden finished off seven in a row in 1989.

Stone, who sculls for the Cambridge Boat Club, will have to hold off Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic, world silver medalist Emma Twigg of New Zealand, world lightweight doubles silver medalists Kristin Hedstrom of Concord and Kate Bertko plus former titlist Ursula Grobler.

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Norway’s Kjetil Borch, who came out of the 27th and final starting slot last year to win the men’s crown, will be up against not only Nils Hoff, with whom he won the world doubles title this year, but also a pair of two-time Head champions in Olympic gold medalist Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand and Michael Sivigny of the US plus American world teamers Steve Whelpley, John Graves and Ben Dann.

Father-son team

Since Harvard heavyweight captain Andrew Holmes will miss next spring’s commencement because it conflicts with the national championships, his father Martin decided to make his first visit from Scotland to the States seven months early and row with him in Saturday afternoon’s parent-child double.

“He’s going to pull me along,” jokes his son, who’s been rowing with his father virtually since birth. “Maybe it was the first week after I was born,” reckons Andrew. “He held me in the boat.”

Martin, who raced for Scotland in the Commonwealth Games, still is a serious competitor who turns up at national championships and recently rowed in the aquatic version of the Boston Marathon, a 31-mile grinder in Boston, England.

“Three miles will be a sprint,” reckons Andrew.

Both of them will be doing double duty at the Head. Martin will row with his Castle Semple clubmates in Saturday morning’s senior master fours and Andrew will stroke the Crimson eight in Sunday afternoon’s championship event, which Harvard won two years ago.

A boatload

How badly does Brown want to break Northeastern’s four-year hammerlock on the men’s alumni crown? Bruno has stacked a boat with three former Olympians, a former world champion and a member of this year’s global team. The group includes Igor Boraska, who won bronze with the Croatian eight in 2000, Porter Collins and Jamie Koven, who rowed for the 1996 and 2000 US teams, national team coach Lucas McGee, who won global gold in the coxed four in 2003, and Matt Wheeler, who rowed in the coxed pair this year. The Olympic connection revved up NU last year when the Huskies had Will Miller and Dan Walsh in the lineup.

Pleasant outlook

The weather won’t be as tropical as it was last year, when Saturday’s temperature reached a record-shattering 76 degrees, but the weekend forecast is promising.

“Today’s the windiest day so I think it will be a real good weekend in terms of racing conditions,” regatta executive director Fred Schoch said on Friday.

Saturday’s temperatures should be in the low 60s with a south/southwest tailwind in the high single digits, which could mean a bunch of course records. Sunday is expected to be in the high 50s with a double-digit headwind from the west.

John Powers can be reached at jpowers@globe.com.
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