Oars and memories: Our Notre Dame journey at the Head of the Charles Regatta
Lara Novaes Victor | Wednesday, November 1, 2023
As soon as you join the rowing world, one of the first regattas you hear about is the legendary Head of the Charles. This regatta is not just another rowing competition; it is a celebrated tradition and a true test of skill and teamwork. Every October, rowers from around the world gather in Boston to participate in this world-renowned race, and this year I was part of the crew that represented Notre Dame. This was an immense honor, but also a challenge.
A few days after nationals in May, the focus of our team fully shifted to one goal: securing a spot in the boats that would represent us at the Head of the Charles. For the boys, this meant committing countless hours to erging during the summer, all while juggling demanding internships and travel schedules. Their unwavering dedication was a testament to their commitment to this race and to representing Notre Dame the best they could. For me and the other coxswains, preparation meant knowing this complicated course like the palm of our hands. Navigating the winding path of the Charles River would require us not only to memorize the course but also to develop a deep understanding of the often weirdly angled bridges and the best path to go through them because winning or losing would come down to our overall course.
As we got back to school and the semester started, the lineups for the Head of the Charles Regatta began to take shape. What once felt like a distant event, almost like an abstract concept, was now becoming a tangible reality. The excitement and anticipation among the team grew with each passing day, and with that so did the sense of purpose and commitment. We knew that we weren’t just racing for ourselves, we were racing for our teammates, family, friends and Notre Dame.
When the day of the regatta arrived and we got to the Charles River, it felt like a vibrant, bustling hub of rowing enthusiasts from every corner of the globe. The riverbanks were filled with colorful tents and buzzing with activity. Teams from far and wide were preparing their boats, fine-tuning their equipment and wearing their distinctive uniforms, each one representing a unique story and a shared passion for the sport.
As my boat and I launched, I couldn’t help but feel like we were part of something truly special. The water was alive with the strokes of countless oars and the echoes of cheers from the sidelines. It was as if the very river itself had come to life, mirroring the intensity and dedication of the rowers from universities across the country and even from the national team.
But with this feeling of being part of something bigger than ourselves, also came the weight of expectation. The spectators lining the riverbanks, the other crews battling for good positions through the bridges and the legacy of the Head of the Charles itself pressed upon us. We knew this was the moment we had all worked tirelessly for, the culmination of months of dedication and preparation.
The stakes were high, and the pressure was palpable. However, we reminded ourselves of the countless hours of training, the early mornings and the late evenings we put in when we pushed ourselves to our limits. We remembered the commitment of our teammates, the support of our families and friends and the pride we felt in representing Notre Dame. And just like that, we knew we were ready.
As the race started, we leaned into the water, finding strength from the sense of purpose and the collective spirit of all the rowers on our team. The challenge was immense, but we were ready. We knew that, at that point, it was time to give our absolute best and embrace the opportunity to make memories that would last a lifetime.
In the midst of that electrifying atmosphere, we rowed with all our hearts driven by the unity of our team and the pride of representing Notre Dame. The Head of the Charles Regatta was not just a race; it showcased our hard work and our love for the sport. As we crossed the finish line, we realized that we had not only participated in a unique event but also made lasting memories that would always remind us of the camaraderie, effort and honor of being part of this rowing community and Notre Dame.
Lara is a member of the class of 2026 from Taubaté, Brazil with majors in economics and Chinese. When she is not complaining about the weather, you can find her studying in a random room of O’Shaughnessy with her friends or spending all her flex points in Garbanzo. You can contact Lara by email at [email protected].
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.