Hanscom represents at Head Of The Charles Regatta|
Posted 10/24/2012 Updated 10/25/2012
by Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Foster
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
10/24/2012 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- In a competition that attracts more than 9,000 athletes and 300,000 spectators, the Air Force was represented by two Hanscom members during the Head Of The Charles Regatta Oct. 21 and 22.
Capt. Christopher James, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Architecture and Services Division project engineer, was able to participate in the event due to an off chance meeting with Chief Master Sgt. Baird Stiefel, 66th Air Base Group superintendent. Stiefel noticed James wearing a rowing shirt and asked if he had previously rowed. James had experience from rowing crew at Purdue University for a year. He then began rowing at Community Rowing Inc. in Newton after Stiefel recruited him to join.
According to their website, www.communityrowing.org, CRI is a state-of-the-art facility that provides equipment and coaching staff with a variety of rowing programs, including those for military men and women. Any military veteran or active duty member can join the club and row free of charge. CRI members also have free access to all the facilities equipment, which includes weights, ergometers and other rowing machines.
James started training three times a week at CRI, doing drills and endurance pieces on the Charles River to prepare for the upcoming HOCR.
"We would show up and train with a coach and other military members or veterans," said James. "CRI has a top notch coaching staff that instructs us on our stroke technique and boat teamwork."
The coach based who made the HOCR boat by the individual's 5K race times, weight, coachability, experience, age and technique. The boat James competed in was composed of Stiefel, two Marines and a CRI coxswain, who is someone that motivates and steers the boat.
"HOCR is the Boston marathon of rowing. It is all about the experience of the training and everyone coming together to achieve a common goal," James said. "Besides the opportunity of being able to compete in the race, it was also a chance to be a part of one of Boston's largest traditions."
According to the website, www.hocr.org, since its origin in 1965, the HOCR Regatta has welcomed the world's best crew teams to the banks of the Charles River for the ultimate two-day rowing competition.
The founders created the regatta on the advice of Harvard University sculling instructor Ernest Arlett. He proposed a "head of the river" race, similar in tradition to races held in his native England, be held on the Charles River. "Head" races are a class of regattas generally three miles in length. Boats compete against one another and the clock, which starts sequentially, approximately fifteen seconds apart. Winners of each race receive the honorary title "Head of the River" or, in this case, "Head Of The Charles."
Prior to the regatta, James mostly focused on improving his fitness and technique.
"It didn't really hit me that I was actually going to do this until the night before," he said. "On race day I was definitely nervous, but while paddling to the start we passed the course while other boats were racing and it really pumped me up seeing other boats go by and hearing the crowd cheer them on."
During the race, James said it was all about focusing on technique and gutting it out through the finish.
"Now that it is over I am glad to have memories of the experience," said James. "But at the same time I am already looking toward my next race and what prep I need to do for it."
For more information on the CRI, contact the outreach coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.communityrowing.org.