Regatta 2011: In Union There is Strength…Row

In Union There is Strength…Row

Just hearing the words “Head of the Charles Regatta” brings images of Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle from “My Fair Lady“, stunning with a massive hat on her head, beautiful gown, and of course those famous words: “Come on, Dover, move your bloomin‘ ass!” Well, turns out it’s not quite like that. At least for our family and friends in our station in life.

It is thousands of people gathered on both sides of the Charles River, with the Cambridge side bearing the bulk of the action. It is an energy and openness that is not always experienced in this more reserved area of the country. It is the contrast of muscles and sweat vs. the strolling spectators. But for all involved it is an event not to be missed.

This year, unseasonably warm weather had some people strolling in t-shirts while others looked at their families saying ‘I thought it was going to be chilly! I would never have worn this jacket” as they removed layers of clothing. Sun and blue sky with a bit of wind made for a near perfect day, unlike some years where rainy and cold autumns dampen rowers and crowds.

The Regatta, a 46 year-old event, began in 1965. The event began based on traditions in England called “head of the river” races. The event has grown into a tradition that attracts rowers from around the world as well as 300,000 visitors to Boston yearly. Hotel space is at a premium and traffic is impossible.

I’m not athletic. Read the post “Crossing the Athletic Line” to learn more about this part of my life. The strength and muscles of the rowers are quite remarkable to this non-athlete. Even more so is the discipline. We are told that crew members at universities have to be tremendously disciplined to keep up with studies and compete on the crew team. 4:30 mornings are not uncommon in freezing weather, as in this area practice continues until the Charles River freezes over. What I deeply appreciated as I watched this years race, along with the great company of good friends, was the motto – “In Union There is Strength….Row” It’s not a new concept, but it was a new way of word-smithing and added an active verb to the end leaving the reader to understand that none of this happens without action. Often when I read things that are presented in a different way, I am struck by the truth in a new way. These rowers have to be unified in their rhythm to achieve success. There is no room for fractures in a successful crew team. If you want to go out on your own, then you need to row alone, and some people choose just that.

There is no strength or success in fractured anything. Not in families, not in churches, not in friendships. Fractures, even hairline fractures, hurt deeply and have to be identified and cared for in order to heal. So with the “In Union There is Strength” motto, I offer you this glimpse into the Head of the Charles Regatta 2011. Enjoy.

Harvard Boat House

A volunteer hard at work!
Harvard boat house from the Boston side of the river
Two-man race

The Charles River sparkling in the sun is deceptive - it's known as a dirty river!

Going under the bridges rowers have to hug to the side to get the shortest route

Fall colors are becoming brilliant after a late start
Best shot I have of the contrast between river and boat
Any event is made better by the people that are a part of it! Especially when they are friends who have stuck with all your quirks and still like you!
Regatta 2011 Cliff & Marilyn on the Charles