The following are two perspective pieces from the Head of the Charles. The left column is by our bow seat, Joe Boyle, and the right by our coxswain, Caitlin O'Loughlin.
"As a coxswain, the title 'Head of the Charles Champion' carries a special amount of pride. This course is commonly known as being a 'coxswain’s nightmare.' However, anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for a big challenge - I knew it could be dominated. I studied the course for weeks and weeks like I had the biggest exam of my life coming up. And I did - The Charles is the true test of mental and technical strength for a coxswain and her crew. I made some crazy decisions during the course of this race, some of them still make me nervous to think about, but we had a job to do. Each time I made a decision like this and called on the guys to do insane things, they trusted me to do my job and I trusted them to do theirs. Only because of this were we able to capitalize on the weaknesses of other crews, make the gutsy decisions, and walk away as champions.
While the coxswain’s perspective on the HOCR is unique, the pride I carry has much less to do with my personal accomplishments and everything to do with us rising to victory as a single unit. I could steer the most aggressive and perfect course in the world and still place dead-last without four insane, driven, and strong guys sitting behind me. I will never forget how I felt as I was screaming under Eliot bridge that we were going to win this (ahem) race. At that moment, we were not in first. Those last 700 meters decided our fate, and I am still so incredibly proud of the guys in my boat for how they attacked those last 700 meters. Sometimes I still can’t believe we won, but I am certainly damn proud to be a part of this team."
- Caitlin O’Loughlin, Class of 2017
"Winning the Head of the Charles was one of the best accomplishments of my life. Our result was the culmination of a summer's worth of hard work combined with a month's worth of disciplined training in our lineup. The race itself was thrilling and dramatic, including the passing of four crews and a momentary clashing of oars with Middlebury. Although we couldn't have known this during the race, we only captured victory over Trent due to an epic sprint and a tight final turn taken by our coxswain. This just goes to show that no race is over until the horn sounds!
While impressive in its own right, our victory symbolizes more than a simple triumph over 46 other teams. The whole crew wore purple socks and ribbons in memorial of my late father, who passed away from pancreatic cancer a year ago this week. I suppose we had a slight advantage with a guardian angel acting as a sixth member of the crew. I am incredibly grateful for the team's continued support of my family and the fight against pancreatic cancer. As coach said before we pushed off the dock Saturday, "this race is about more than yourselves." I think we all discovered what it means to push yourself for more than personal gain. This win represents a huge step forward for the program, and I couldn't be happier to have been a part of it. R'Irish!"
- Joe Boyle, Class of 2016