The Seniors’ Last Head of The Charles Regatta
The Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR), hosted in Cambridge, Massachusetts, began in October of 1965 and is the largest 3-day rowing competition in the world with over 400,000 spectators. Held on the penultimate weekend of October, the race was first organized by Cambridge Boat Club members D'Arcy MacMahon, Howard McIntyre, and Jack Vincent along with the help of Ernst Arlett (Harvard University’s sculling instructor). HOCR now attracts over 11,000 athletes with over 1,900 boats in 55 events, and has grown to be the world’s largest rowing event.
This year the race was from October 21-23, and the Cornell men’s heavyweight rowing team sent two 4+ boats, which comprise of four rowers who sweep (use one oar) with a coxswain. One of the boats finished second overall and placed first in the collegiate category. This 1st place boat consisted of Max Zirkman ’24 (Cox), Adam Campaign ’23 (Bow), Max Kreutzelman ’23, Jackson Hardin ’23, and Marko Djuranovic ’24 (Stroke). For the seniors, Campaign, Kreutzelman, and Hardin, this was their very last HOCR as part of the Cornell team.
For any rower, having the opportunity to participate in this regatta is a great accomplishment. This is especially true for Hardin, who was flooded with a sense of relief upon finding out he made it after struggling with tendonitis throughout the season. HOCR was also a redemption race for Hardin and Kreutzelman, as last year, they were a part of the Cornell 4+ that lost their category by half a second.
“I’m from Cambridge, Massachusetts, so it was a big hometown race for me. It was a great atmosphere, and my mom, dad, and old highschool friends were there, making it even more special,” Hardin explained. “It’s also a big social event. The first day you get there, you walk around and chat with the other athletes and family. However, the day of the race is all business. When I got to the race course, the nerves were high, but I was filled with excitement and I was confident in our boat and lineup.”
Hardin and Kreutzelman both described this boat as gifted and experienced. Kreutzelman said, “The expectations and anxiety were super high this year because we were bow #1, while last year we were bow #15. The opportunity to seize the moment was there, and it was great to capitalize on it and start first. It being our senior year made the win that much better.”
Kreutzelman’s favorite memory with the Cornell heavies happened to be this win at HOCR. He explained, “My coxswain and I determined the split we needed to win. We knew what we needed to do to get that first place medal, and we planned it and executed it well.” Kreutzelman said, “Overall, the guys we had in the boat and the power we had behind the oar was what brought us victory. Hitting all the turns, hearing the crowd, and seeing all your mates on the dock supporting you made it that much better.” He describes the moment as a “core memory of rowing” and the epitome of what it means to put everything out there. Similarly, Hardin describes his experience at the race as having all of his team’s hard work pay off.
“My whole experience here has taught me that you get out what you put in. At the end of the day, it’s a question of how much you are willing to dedicate and sacrifice in terms of your time, effort, and energy and that's really a determinant of what makes you do well or not. If you put in more, you’ll get out more, and that’s super invaluable,” Hardin said.
Although HOCR is one of the most competitive races, Hardin reflected on his Cornell career and found his highlight to be with Jack Robinson ‘22, a former co-captain who sadly passed away almost a year ago due to osteosarcoma. Early last spring season, the team had one last row together in Florida.
“It was not the best row we had, but it was the most meaningful one,” Hardin said. “Everyone came together that day and left it all out there. It was more pressure than a national championship and HOCR, because there was no second chance, it was the last. Seeing everyone come together to make that a really good row was my highlight at Cornell.”
Kreutzelman retrospectively explained how towards the end of spring season last year, they all came together to honor Robinson’s memory, and the one word he used to describe Cornell rowing was unity.
Whether it is having breakfast at Trillium, going to Teagle, or racing, Cornell rowing has a huge sense of community and the team is constantly trying to better themselves. Kreutzelman's goal for the rest of the year is to continue to help everyone on the team, share his ideas and advice, and to guide the underclassmen. “We are all here for the same purpose,” said Kreutzelman.
Hardin reflected on how this fall was a mark of constant improvement. When he arrived at Cornell as a freshman, the team placed 12th at the national championship and 10th at HOCR. Last year, they were 10th at the national championship and 2nd at HOCR. Finally, they won HOCR this year, and Hardin is most excited to see the progress they will make at the national championship this spring.