With the 2020 Summer Olympics on the horizon, many of the best rowers in the world will participate in Boston this weekend at the 55th Head of the Charles Regatta. This year’s competition will feature more than 11,000 athletes from 24 countries racing in 66 events.
The US women’s national team returns to defend its title in the championship eights. The crew of Felice Mueller, Kristine O’Brien, Meghan Musinicki, Dana Moffat, Olivia Coffey, Emily Regan, Gia Doonan, Erin Reelick, and Katelin Guregian is coming off a third-place finish at the 2019 World Championships in Austria to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Those rowers likely will be split up between the two boats the women’s national team will be racing in the championship eights on the Charles River.
The US men’s eight, men’s four, women’s four, women’s double, and women’s pair teams also used the World Championship to qualify for the Olympics.
For the US men’s national team, qualifying early for Tokyo will help with their training.
“The monkey is off the back for the men since they qualified both the eights and fours for the first time in 12 years,” said Head of the Charles executive director Fred Schoch. “They’re now able to train from now through the summer to get ready for Tokyo, whereas in the past they had to go to a qualifying regatta, which is really disruptive. Now they can keep their training cycles intact which is a big advantage.”
■ Races: Saturday, the races are scheduled from 7:45 a.m. to 4:43 p.m. The Sunday races are set for 7:45 a.m. to 4:12 p.m.
■ The course: The start line is at the Boston University Boathouse. The finish line is near Herter Park. The course is 3 miles and runs upstream.
■ Awards: All ceremonies will be held at Attager Row, located just before the finish line. Ceremonies will be held following the races at about 5 p.m. both days.
■ Where to watch: The six bridges along the course are great vantage points, and there is plenty of space along the riverbank for spectactors. The BU Bridge, River Street Bridge, Western Avenue Bridge, Weeks Bridge, Anderson Bridge, and Eliot Bridge all free and open to all spectators.
Who to watch
■ Newton resident Gevvie Stone is looking to continue her record-setting run in the women’s championship singles. Stone, a 2016 Olympic Silver medalist, is a nine-time champion and the course record-holder in the event. Her chief competition is Californian Kara Kohler, who beat Stone in qualification and finished third while representing the US at the Worlds tin August, qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in the process.
■ Andrew Campbell, a 14-time US national team member and 2016 Olympian, holds the HOC course record in the men’s championship singles and is one of the favorites in that event along with eight-time national team member John Graves.
■ The US men’s national team is defending its championship eights title with two qualifying boats. Yale University is coming off a 2018 men’s collegiate championship eights title and will be pushing the national team along with Brown University.
■ The US women’s national team will be pushed by Stanford in the championship eights along with 2019 NCAA national champion Washington.
■ Bates College aims for a third consecutive title in the women’s collegiate eights, with Williams and WPI contending as well.
■ Weston resident Greg Benning is seeking his eighth straight title in the men’s grand master singles.
■ Warwick, R.I., native Dan Gorriaran and rowing partner Mike Smith are seeking a seventh consecutive title in the senior master doubles.
■ Somerville resident Shawn Wolf and rowing partner Pete Morelli are seeking a fifth straight masters doubles title.
■ Brown graduate Jamie Koven is defending his title in the senior master singles and will be pushed by Shane Madden and Jake Watkins.
■ Georgetown alum Brendan McEwan stopped West Boylston native Andrew Hashway’s run of three consecutive titles in the men’s master singles last year.
■ New Hampshire native Hugh McAdam is an Olympic hopeful pursuing his sixth straight title in the men’s lightweight singles.
The regatta provides complimentary shuttle bus services throughout the course. The shuttles start running Friday at noon and will make stops every 20 minutes until 7 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, the shuttles will run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will make stops every 15 minutes.
Race course shuttle: Will stop at the singles and doubles launch site, Lars Anderson Bridge (Boston side), Cambridge Boat Club, and the Finish Area launch site.
Leo Birmingham Parkway shuttle: Will be running from the parking area on Birmingham Parkway to the Finish Area launch site.
Using public transportation is highly recommended since the event can draw over 100,000 spectators and parking is limited; If public transportation is out of the question, here is where you can park.
Leo Birmingham Parkway: Free, on-street parking is available. The parkway runs next to I-90 and is accessible from Market Street off of Soldiers Field Road or from the intersection of Soldiers Field Road and Route 20 near Community Rowing. The lots are available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There is no parking after 6 p.m.
Alewife T Station: Garage parking for 2,627 cars and Red Line T service to Harvard Square accessible from Route 2 off I-95. From Harvard Square, it’s a short walk to the river and the Weld Exhibition/Reunion Village area. Parking is available seven days a week for 24 hours and costs $3 for 14 hours and $15 for 24 hours.
Harvard Stadium, Gate 14: Parking available for about 500 cars in lots accessible off Soliders Field Road heading East. The lot is located across from the FALS/Rowing and Fitness Expo area. Parking costs $30 and the lot will be available Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Memorial Drive from Cambridge Boat Club to Western Avenue will be closed on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.