2019 Head of the Charles Regatta

On Saturday, October 19th, 2019 and Sunday, October 20th, 2019, I participated as a volunteer in my first ever Head of the Charles Regatta, I visited the Regatta a few years prior to becoming a ham, but this was my first time being there long term.

This was the fifty-fifth edition of the Head of the Charles, which first began in 1965. The Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR) is the world's largest two day regatta. Outside of the major league team sports and the Boston Marathon, the Head of the Charles is probably one of the biggest sporting events in Boston.

To quote rowing coach Susan Saint Sing:
Regattas such as the Head of the Charles in Boston and the Head of the Schuylkill in Philadelphia are to the rowing world what the New York Marathon and the Boston Marathon are to running.
Myself and two volunteers on a walking team.
The job of the amateur radio operators at the HOCR is to be the radio communications for the volunteer first aid teams on shore and on the safety launches on the Charles River. There are various things that can happen during the regatta such as boat collisions, oars to the face, distressed rowers and even spectator injuries. Thankfully, the first aid teams are well equipped and well trained to deal with it, from Red Cross volunteers to EMTs to actual doctors of varying experience.

Generally, one ham and some first aid members will remain on station at a first aid tent while other hams will proceed out with a walk team to do a patrol along a designated section of the course looking for anyone who needs assistance or to respond quicker to medical incidents.

The regatta is officially two days since the races take place on Saturday and Sunday, however, practices do take place on Friday also, so there are some hams and first aid members on site, but at reduced coverage.
Net control's trailer
The call sign for event and net control is W1R and has been since at least 2012 according to the 1X1 callsigns website. Net control runs a hybrid net similar to the Marathon, which means that locations can call each other direct if needed and not need permission from net control.

Also on site are rented commercial radios for HOCR staff to use. However, unlike the Marathon, the first aid stations do not have a commercial radio assigned to them, it is strictly amateur radio. Just make sure you don't lose them to the "dirty water" of the Charles River, as happened twice over the weekend.

Of course, just like the Marathon and any large event, public safety radio is also on hand for obvious reasons and since the Charles River is the city line between Boston and Cambridge, their public safety is on hand, along with the State Police as the majority of the Charles River basin is state parkland controlled by the Department of Conservation & Recreation. For any major medical emergencies, public safety is on standby.

All in all, the Head of the Charles Regatta is a great two to three-day event for any ham to participate in. I'd say it's a more relaxed environment compared to say the Boston Marathon and a great way to get your feet wet (literally in some cases, although, we really don't want that to happen) in amateur radio public service.

Just make sure your radio is programmed properly please. Unless you want to see an angry tweet from me about it.

Anyways, I plan to participate again next year.



Popular posts from this blog

A beginning

2019 Boston Marathon After Action