Thursday, October 18, 2012

Charles Chat: RR Picks and Predictions for the 2012 Head Of The Charles Regatta

Home stretch! (Photo: B. Kitch)
The 48th Head Of The Charles is set to begin Saturday in Boston, MA, and it is arguably the best-ever in terms of sheer numbers of Olympians and national team athletes racing and attending the regatta. In addition to a large contingent of U.S. Olympians, there will be athletes from the British, Dutch, Canadian, Slovenian, Norwegian, New Zealand and Australian national rowing federations on hand, among others. Given the huge number of events at the Charles, one must needs be selective in making picks – as usual, opinions to follow!

Women's Champ Single
We see this as a showdown between local favorite Gevvie Stone (last year's Charles champ), and Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova. While Kim Crow is arguably the best athlete in women's rowing right now, we're wondering if her competitors experience and familiarity with the Charles course will prove too much for Crow this go around. We're also looking for strong performances from Debbie Flood of the GB squad, Kathleen Bertko, and Ursula Grobler. Look for these athletes to round out the top six.

Men's Champ Single
In the world of men's single sculling, it's hard to bet against West End Rowing Club's Mahé Drysdale at the moment. He's the defending champion in this event, is coming off another extremely successful season that included his first Olympic gold medal, and, of course, he'll be starting in pole position. Look for Mahé to repeat this year. There are several other Olympians in the mix, including Lassi Karonen, James Chapman (of the Aussie men's four), and Kjetil Borch (of the Norwegian men's double), as well as U.S. lightweights Tom Paradiso and Will Daly. We're also looking for another solid showing at the Charles for both Mike Sivigny and Mike Perry, both of whom put together a solid race in Boston every year. With so many talented athletes in the field, it's tough to predict an order, but look for the above scullers to be in the top ten.

Women's Champ Double
The favorites in the women's champ double have to be Emily Cameron and Kelly Shaffer of Canada, who represented their country in this combination at the Olympic Games in London. Along with them, we also see Vesper (with Catherine Reddick), USTC-OKC (with Grace Luczak), and CRC (with Jen Goldsack) as strong contenders for the medals.

Men's Champ Double
While the brothers Pete and Tom Graves have won this event for three straight years, we're picking a new winner this year – look for the combination of Alan Campbell and Aleksandar Aleksandrov to take the title. We expect the combination of Olaf Tufte and Iztok Cop to be contenting for the title as well, and the new-look Potomac BC combination of Sam Stitt and Matt Miller (formerly of UVa) could prove very competitive. Also, the duo of Glenn Ochal and Marcel Hacker will be in the mix. And don't ever count the 'Brothers Graves' out – they are great racers and (obviously) know very well how to get in done in Boston.

Women's Champ Eight
Again, the Canadians have brought an extremely successful and competitive Olympic entry to Boston, and we are looking for them to get the best of their North American rivals this time on the Charles. Look for the women's 'Great Eight' to place second behind Canada, with the USRowing taking third place overall. We see Virginia as the top collegiate contender, and are looking for another strong performance from Radcliffe this year as well.

Men's Champ Eight
This will be a showdown between a very solid combo Olympic/under-23 USRowing men's eight, and the 'Great Eight' (Tideway Scullers). It's hard not to give the edge to Tideway, though they'll all have a race under their belts by the time Sunday afternoon rolls around. Also, look for the University of Washington to post another strong result, along with Harvard and Brown at the top of the intercollegiate ranks.

Women's Collegiate Eights
We're expecting a battle between Grand Valley State University and Williams, with Williams entering as the favorite. Bates has been consistently solid, and will be starting second, so look for another strong performance from them as well (these three made up the top three crews last year).

Men's Collegiate Eights
This year we're betting on the University of Virginia to take first place ahead of Williams, given the strength of the UVa program last year and the momentum they will have entering the 2012-2013 season. And, as on the women's side, we're also looking for Grand Valley State to be among the top three this year, with John Bancheri's programs both making strides last year.

So there you have it! Just do us a favor and try not to be bored this weekend, given we've already laid out the results. But seriously, as we've promised before, if we do indeed prove insightful, we'll do our best to keep from calling ourselves 'Rowstradamus' or anything like that. For now.

Good luck to all those racing in Boston! For a full list of entries, see Regatta Central, and check out the live webcast on the Charles website this weekend.

-RR

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