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DCR says it's time to figure out how to improve the Head of the Charles - and reduce its impact on the riverbanks

DCR will be holding a public meeting Wednesday evening to help it map out a long-term plan for better managing the annual fall Head of the Charles Regatta between the Watertown line and the Charles River basin.

The Zoom session (registration required) begins at 6:30 p.m.

DCR, which has already hired a consulting firm, is looking for public advice on everything from making it easier for large crowds of people and participating teams to get to and from the riverbanks to helping ensure all those people don't damage those banks.

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Comments

This idea is probably way out of the box for the rowing community, but here goes.

I have attended Head of the Charles many times, and it seems that half of the logistical challenge of the event is dealing with managing about 2000 boats. Everyone races in their own boats, so every team needs to bring not just people but also their awkwardly long boats, which sit on awkwardly long trailers and need to be carried across areas populated by throngs of spectators and competitors, launched into the river, removed from the river, etc.

Why not have the race organizers provide the boats, which should vastly reduce the number of boats needed? (I get that boat technology is essentially part of the competition, but is it worth the mess of having so many boats? And also, doesn't it make the race more about the athletes if they all use the same kind of boats?)

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Voting closed 21

This is assinine. Why don’t we make the Red Sox use league provided bats as well?

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Voting closed 13

The teams don't own their own boats. The race organization does.

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Voting closed 18

Not even close to similar. Why are people with zero knowledge of rowing making these idiotic comparisons?

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Voting closed 13

A new, competitive racing 8 costs something like $50,000 or even more. Even "lightly used" ones are $40k.

2,000 boats at that cost would be $100 million dollars.

Even if you instead say that we'll only have a 100 or so, and just keep re-using them, that's still $5 million. who pays for it? The racers? They've already paid for their boats and want to use them.

And just like at the Go-Kart track, some of the "pool vehicles" are lemons. Each competitive team keeps their boats in competition shape, so if the HoTC is going to do that, now you need full time staff to maintain them.

Then where do they get stored for the rest of the year? Are they used by random colleges/high schools/team building events? If so, those hulls are going to be in pretty shit condition come regatta time. No one will want to race on derelict hulls.

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Voting closed 20

There's a fair bit of adjustment to the rigging and seats for each individual rower in a given shell. Plus everyone would have to train in the standardized boats to be ready for race day.

And even if the race organizers (CBC) were to provide the shells, they'd need some place to store several hundred of them since the boat goes out for a couple of hours with each set of rowers -- there's warm-up, marshaling in the Basin, the actual race, and return to the dock. Plus there's the several million dollars needed to purchase all those shells (the cost for a high-quality 8 is similar to a new car).

The shells are really only in a few areas and it's not as if there are dozens of docks on the river.

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Voting closed 27

I have rowed all over the US, Canada, and in Europe. Regatta cultures vary. Here, in New England, there is a peculiar and prideful notion that it would be impossible to race in a boat that belonged to another team. As if doing so were to commit some sort of undermining sacrifice. Hogwash! Even with rigging adjustments, sharing boats is totally feasible. And now, someone can develop and APP for it: Boat 5, seats 6 and 2 need adjustments for yaddah-yadday-yah by such-and-such-a-time.

Besides, our coaches, the same ones who made us chop up the river ice for early March practice, always admonished: Never blame the equipment!

I once saw a University of Wisconsin team win a marathon rowing event in Louisiana with a broken rudder AND the skeg had fallen off too! One of the rowers dove underwater to repair what they could and on they rowed.

Part of the problem with North East rowers is they are hobbled by their own sense of entitlement.

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Voting closed 13

Aside from the individualized rigging, boats come in different sizes and weight ranges to fit the crew. Hulls for high schoolers, light weights, heavy weights, novices, experts all vary in size, weight, quality, and durability.

This idea is a kin to having a bicycle race with 5,000 participants ranging in skill from someone that started riding a few months ago to professional riders, not a joke - that’s the range of skill at the Head, all riding blue bikes.

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Voting closed 19

They are trying to fix a completely manmade environment as if it was a naturally formed landscape?

Seems weird.

Also - Here come the remove cars Memorial Drive / Storrow Drive / Soldiers Field Road zealots.

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Voting closed 30

No they are trying to preserve for the future a landscaped park that people enjoy. We don’t have any full natural unadulterated parks in Boston, do you think they should all be totally unmanaged.
And yes I agree with you, removing cars and trucks from memorial and especially storrow drive would dramatically improve the health of and peoples enjoyment of the Charles.

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Voting closed 51

Great dig

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and like anything manmade they'll have to keep spending time, money, and effort man-making it if it's getting worn out. Your walls are manmade and if your doorknobs were putting holes in the drywall you'd probably be looking for ways to stop the doors opening so far.

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Voting closed 40

Can they figure out who picks up needles in the Franklin Park? Maybe a public-private partnership?

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Voting closed 28

I am with you on that. We went to the kite festival this weekend. Intravenous drug use and crack smoking without discretion by hollow-eyed sweaty zombies seemed to be the thing when we walked through the park to the festival.

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Voting closed 20

But it's a city park so out of their jurisdiction.

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Voting closed 17

Namely, that it's not in Franklin Park?

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Voting closed 19

I've been enjoying the HoTC since I was a teenager (I won't say how many decades). What I've noticed more than anything over the years is tmore blocking of the river banks for the wealthier tent areas.

Maybe it's me but I don't remember so many spaces being "off-limits" b/c there were private events. Some yes, but not like now.

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Voting closed 20

I've long been a regular visitor to the section of the Charles where the Herter Center is and I don't mind the HoC at all. They spend a couple of weeks preparing the site and then a week or so after the event tearing it all down.

One thing I am bothered by is the haphazard way the site is restored. Park benches which were moved from the river's edge are not put back in place, deep ruts in the grass are not filled in and the grass areas are not reseeded for months.

A good thing is that the reeds and bushes at the water's edge are cut back to provide unobstructed views – the DCR *never* does that (and in fact seems to neglect that area entirely).

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It used to be one day, a Sunday, then they added a whole second day of racing on Saturday, and then even a few races on Friday.

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Voting closed 20

Would it work better on a four-day weekend?

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Voting closed 12

smaller crowds means more head along the Charles.

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If we really want to preserve it, we could just have no racing.

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They could move it to the actual head of the Charles in Hopkinton. Maybe Echo Lake is big enough. :)

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Voting closed 10