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Head of the Charles

The Tech Head of the Charles Coverage

T he 34th rowing of the Head of the Charles Regatta this weekend marked the second year in a row that race was held over a two day period. With over 5,700 rowers representing 22 countries and 400 institutions, this weekend's races marked the largest rowing event in the world.

The 3.2 mile Head of the Charles course, with its sharp corners as well as narrow bridge passings, has proved to be one of most challenging of all regattas. The race begins at the Boston University Boat House, passes under several bridges, and ends with a sharp turn that leads the boats past Elliot Bridge.

The club singles, fours and eights were held Saturday afternoon while the championship, lightweight and youth races occurred on all day Sunday. The Bangladesh and Turkey national teams made their debut this year.

Before 150,000 spectators, the U.S. national team displayed their dominance Sunday by taking home the trophy in the men's championship eights event for the second consecutive year with a time of 14:09.65. The strong Princeton University team finished second, roughly 10 seconds behind the U.S. rowers, and the Pole France Nantes team followed with third place. Rounding out the top five were Yale University and Harvard University.

On the women's side, the Danish Rowing Federation was able to prevent a repeat by Rowing Canada in the championship eights race. The Danish team finished the course in 15:44.66, coming in less than half a second short of the record set by the Canadians last year. The USwomen's national team was able to capture a distant third place.

In the championship singles, favorite and 1997 champion Jamie Koven was able to repeat as the event winner in the men's division. The unseasonably warm weather, however, took its toll as the competitors were nearly 15 seconds off last year's pace. Koven finished in 17:59.07, well ahead of Ian Watson's second place finish of 18:12.41. Julia Chilicki took the title in the women's championship singles with a 19:37.55 followed by Cindy Brooks at 19:53.65.

This year, MIT entered four men's and three women's boats in the regatta. The men's varsity heavyweights, considerably better than last year's boat, entered the championship eights race and placed 22nd out of 45 competitors with a time of 15:23.90. The course conditions, however, kept their time only two seconds better than last year's race.

"I think the heavyweight varsity did very well. That bodes well for them for the spring season,"said Director of Crew Stuart Schmill '86.

The varsity lightweights racing in the lightweight eights division placed a 19th out of 29 with a time of 16:10.37. Despite beating all non-Division Ischools, the lightweight rowers fell short of their coach's expectations.

"I'm a little disappointed in how the crew performed. The Head is our biggest showcase, but it's not the race we spend the most of our time preparing for because it comes so early in the season,"noted Schmill. "I am, however, optimistic about how we'll perform in the spring. We have a good young team with some experienced rowers."

Other entries on the MITmen's side included the junior varsity heavyweight and lightweight boats in the club eights event. The heavyweight team met misfortune as an accident during the race dropped them to 68th place out of 79 teams. The lightweight boat, however, finished with an impressive 33rd place and a time of 16:41.46.

"Iwas very pleased with the second boat lightweight," said Schmill. "They did better than any junior varsity team I've ever coached just by finishing in the top half of the field."

This year's MITwomen's varsity team was the first boat to enter the lightweight eights race of the regatta in several years. The official results of the women's lightweights race were not posted as of Monday evening.

"Our team did pretty well and we're moving forward in our training for the spring races," said rower Julie Wyatt '01. "It was exciting just to race against the U.S. national team."

The women's team also entered two boats in the club eights race. The first boat finished in 18:27.46, putting them in 16th place out of 70 teams.

"We're happy about our race. This was our fastest time on the course so far this year," remarked Elizabeth Rose '00.

The second boat in the club eights event finished in 55th place with a time of 19:38.82.

The MITcommunity also had representatives outside of the crew teams. In his 30th year of participation, Professor of Mathematics Hartley Rogers Jr., at the age of 72, finished an astounding fourth overall in the senior veterans division with a time of 23:23.37. In the club singles event, Niell Elvin G, despite missing the 12th and 13th buoys, managed to finish with an impressive tenth overall with a time of 20:06.77. Schmill, who was picked up by the New York AthleticClub as a coxswain, guided the women's championship fours to a fourth place finish in 18:59.65. Steve Tucker '91, who is a member of the U.S. national team, finished third in the championship doubles in 17:06.01.

Perhaps the most impressive of all MITaffiliates was the performance of Linda Muri '85. As a rower on the U.S.women's national lightweight eights team, Muri helped the team finish first overall in their division.

This year, the Head of the Charles Regatta saw the number of applicants increase from 646 to 783, a 21 percent increase. The number of female applicants increased by 30 percent while the number of male applicants increased by 17 percent.