The white, blue, and red oars viciously churned the muddy water of the Charles. A hoard of spectators crowded to the dock’s edge, nearly sinking it, as the Belmont Hill boat broke into the last stretch. No matter who you were, alumnus, parent, rower, or fan, the Head of the Charles’ energy was electric. And rightly so. This year was one of significant improvement for the Belmont Hill Crew program. The regatta was the perfect teaser for the competitive spring to come.
This year, Belmont Hill hosted nine athletes from Scotch College, Melbourne. The Aussies, being one of the dominant crews in Australia, made the long journey from the down under for their very first Head of the Charles. Their trip, however, was fairly last minute. When Eton College, the crew Belmont Hill usually hosts, decided not to come, a spot was left open for a new international scholastic team to experience the Head of the Charles. The scrambling was worth it, as their eight finished in fifth, an impressive feat considering their starting position in the back of the field.
Because of ISL rules, the Belmont Hill crews could only practice once a week, totaling to only five rows together before the Head. However, despite racing in a highly competitive field that, largely, has been rowing all fall, both boats turned out strong finishes. The four came in at an impressive 13th out of 85 and the eight narrowly missed top half, getting 48th out of 85. Tommy Ruggles, a captain and six seat of the eight, said of the results, “Even though we only rowed together a couple of times before racing, I was very impressed by the team’s performance.” Both Belmont Hill crews this year made solid improvements upon last year’s results. In the previous Head of the Charles, the four finished 24th out of 85 while the eight got 63rd out of 85. Such a quick turnaround, with minimal practice time, was extremely impressive. The four jumped from the 72nd to the 85th percentile and the eight blew out of the 26th percentile to the 44th.
In addition to the student involvement, a number of Belmont Hill faculty members also participated in the race on Saturday. Mr. Richards rowed in the Men’s Senior Master Fours for Cambridge Boat Club and placed 2nd out of 53 boats. Mr. George raced once again for his alma mater, Brown University, to claim 2nd out of 57 in the Men’s Alumni Eights. Mr. George, who hadn’t rowed in the Head of the Charles in a while, said that the formation of the boat came after last year’s “renewed interest in the period that I rowed in because we’d been coming up on the 20th anniversary” of that particular team.