A boat half-filled with MIT affiliates came in first place ahead of 43 other boats in the Club Fours Men's Race Saturday at the 40th Head of the Charles Regatta. Seven MIT varsity crews and several MIT-affiliates' boats competed in the races.
"We thought we had a pretty good chance," said team member Toby Ayer (S.B. 1996), a physics lecturer in the Experimental Study Group. His crew team, the Bosporos BC, met through Oxford University, where they all studied. "We've all been staying in pretty good shape," he said, referring to Dan Perkins, coach of MIT's men's freshmen heavyweight crew, and two Oxford University graduates, Brian Palm and Andrew Dunn.
The Club Fours Men's Race was the third race held Oct. 23, the first day of the regatta. The day was cool, cloudy and windy. "Choppy water makes it hard to row. Being a little cool is actually a little better," Ayer said on Monday after the race.
The competition was fierce. As the largest multi-day rowing regatta in the world, the Head of the Charles attracts more than 7,000 athletes to Boston and Cambridge from many countries to compete in 24 different race events during the weekend. Seven MIT crew teams and at least four other boats with MIT-affiliated rowers raced.
Michael Perry (S.B. 1999) came in second in the Men's Championship Single on Saturday afternoon. "That's a great finish," said former MIT head rowing coach Stuart Schmill, who is now director of the Educational Council and associate director of admissions at MIT. "He finished behind a former world champion and Olympian."
Schmill himself competed in the Senior Master's Eight event, placing second out of 32 crews. His crew missed first place by just one second, but managed to beat out the 1980 Olympic crew, who finished fourth in the race.
MIT's 1969 Lightweight crew team came in 23rd of 32 crews. "We were pleased with our race and so we were surprised that we didn't rank higher," said Bruce Anderson (S.B. 1969) the team's captain. "Feels like we must be the only ones getting older each year."
The MIT student teams did not fare as well as Hamilton had hoped. The Collegiate Eight Men's placed the best, coming in 21st out of 45 crews, with a time of 12:05.
"Some of our performances were definitely as fast as I had hoped," said men's heavyweight coach Gordon Hamilton. "But the places were not quite as high."
This year, approximately 30 visiting crews from all over the world launched out of the MIT Boathouse on the Cambridge side of the Charles River in boats borrowed from the MIT crew team. "We make rowing in the Head of the Charles possible for approximately 200 rowers," said Ian Hutton, who coaches MIT's men's varsity lightweight rowers.
In addition to several crews from the Cambridge University team, boats were lent to a Dutch team, a team from Seattle and many others. The MIT boathouse, with its central location on the river, can become very crowded during the regatta.
"We are a popular stop for boats with last-minute repairs to make, and for the last-minute bathroom break--the frantic mad dash from the dock to the locker room, panicking when they get to the locker room and don't know the combination to get in," said Schmill.
This year, the MIT boathouse also served as headquarters for safety and medical personnel. "We have a good central location," said Hamilton. Though the actual racecourse is generally pretty safe, the practice area that runs right past MIT has been the site of a few accidents in the past.
But things ran smoothly this year. "Other than some broken equipment we helped to replace for some teams, there were no major emergencies," said Hamilton. "It was a very good weekend."