Your (Unofficial) Head of the Charles Shopping Guide

You’ll find, Dear Novice Rower, that teammates will work themselves into a tizzy to get a chance to row at the Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR).

Why?

  • The amazingly difficult course (serpentine with seven narrow bridges, wacky current, and unpredictable weather)?
  • The jaw-dropping competition (10,000+ rowers this year, 70 of them fresh from the Rio games)?
  • The crowds (thousands of people hanging over bridges and sitting on the shoreline to watch…of all things...rowing?!)

Perhaps.

But I think a highlight is definitely the shopping. Every rowing vendor who’s a rowing vendor is at this regatta’s Rowing and Fitness Expo. It’s the best way to see newest equipment, try on gear, and immerse yourself in your favorite sport with a slew of like-minded junkies. If you are fortunate enough to be in Boston this weekend, here’s what to seek out:

1)   Boatbuilders and oar builders. If you are in the market for a boat or oars (and every rower is…at all times), you’ll find them all here. See a boat in person, meet the builders, ask questions. You’ll educate yourself in a hurry.

2)   NK. AKA, the CoxBox, StrokeCoach, and SpeedCoach guys and gals. If you are nerdy about rowing electronics <hand raised>, they are your tent. Be on the lookout for sweet little regatta specials on devices that rarely go on sale.

3)   JL Racing. The best of the best in rowing duds for rowing studs. Figure out your size, check out their cool designs, and outfit yourself for next season.

4) Rubini Jewelers.  Deck yourself with gorgeous, one-of-a-kind rowing bling. Bracelets, necklaces, belt buckles, keyrings, and yes, even nose rings--all sign worthy and oh-so-creative.

5)   Official HOCR Merch. In addition to the obsequious tee-shirts and sweatshirts, I highly recommend their socks (inexpensive, sturdy, and some of the best in my drawer. They don't even lose their shape when I slip them around my water bottle). My official, accept-no-substitutes HOCR lanyard (currently guarding my boathouse and locker keys) is pretty cool too. Both under $15. Booyah!

6)   Brooks Brothers. Because rowing. And blazers. And The Official Preppy Handbook. You'll be living the dream.

 (What am I missing? Who are your favorite HOCR vendors?)