This year, the Head Of The Charles celebrated 55 years of racing. Since 1965, rowers have descended upon Boston during the third weekend in October to cover three miles of water as quickly as possible.
The race began as a simple, one-day event with just over a dozen men’s race categories and has grown exponentially since its first year. The annual event now features over 11,000 athletes in over 2,600 crews. appearing in 71 events over two days. While the race has changed drastically over the years, there has been one constant since 1980: Gentle Giant.
Employees from Gentle Giant Moving Company have been competing in the Head Of The Charles annually since the company was founded nearly 40 years ago. Our Gentle Giant rowers are no strangers to the twists and turns of the Charles River, and no strangers to the medal podium.
As a company rooted in rowing culture, it’s no surprise that Gentle Giant has a long and decorated history in the rowing world. Gentle Giant founder, Larry O’Toole, spent countless hours racing with Northeastern University men’s rowing and has continued to foster connections and recruited employees through the team. It’s common for at least one past or present employee to walk away from the Head Of The Charles carrying a bit of hardware.
There are more Giants than we can count who have participated in the Head Of The Charles, and so many highlights throughout the years:
- We have cheered on Northeastern University boats for the last 40 years. From Larry’s first boat, to the early 2000s boats with marketing specialist Niles Kuronen, all the way to current sophomore Spencer Brennessel, who lead Northeastern to a 7th place finish in the men’s club 8+ event.
- Olympian, Northeastern alum, and Gentle Giant mover Dan Walsh worked as a Gentle Giant employee and traversed the Charles race course successfully, both as an athlete and more recently as a coach.
- Gentle Giant mover and Northeastern alumna Elena Menegakis was the first oarswoman inducted into the Northeastern Hall of Fame.
- Retired director of recruiting David Lister was a former teammate of Larry’s and a mainstay on the course for decades.
- The Northeastern alumni crew, stacked with former Gentle Giant movers, has walked away with gold six of the 10 years since the Alumni 8+ event was officially inducted into the race program.
- Sean Wolf, former Gentle Giant sales associate and well-decorated rower, won gold in the master’s 2x for four consecutive years between 2015 and 2018.
- Andrew Hashway, former mover and current move consultant, is no stranger to the Head Of The Charles. Hashway holds three gold medals for his wins in the Master 1x and a course record for the same event. In 2017, Hashway traveled the three-mile course faster than any other competitor since the event was introduced in 1977.
This year saw quite the battle of Giants in several major events. The men’s club 8+, the men’s club 4+, the men’s lightweight 8+, and the men’s champ 8+ all included a lineup of Giants:
- The men’s club 8+ featured at least four Giants in four separate boats racing down the course. Spencer Brennessel lead the Northeastern boat to 7th, followed shortly after by Jack Richards of the Harvard boat in 9th, with Robert Erwin in the Holy Cross boat and Drew Niles in the Tufts boat, coming in at 22nd and 26th respectively.
- The men’s club 4+ featured Max Sullivan leading the Boston University boat to 4th along with Michael Green in the Fairfield University boat at 19th.
- The men’s lightweight 8+ included Max Marchiony in the Dartmouth boat taking 9th followed by Owen Niles (brother of Drew Niles) in the Harvard boat taking 11th.
- Finally, Alex Richards came down the course fast and furious in the men’s Champ 8+ with the US Training Center, finishing 2nd just seconds behind the other US Training Center boat.
- Hillary Saeger, former Gentle Giant mover, earned first place in the lightweight division of the Woman’s Championship 2x.
Many rowers go on to pass down their skills and knowledge by picking up the coaching megaphone. There have been scores of Gentle Giant athletes-turned-coaches over the years, but let’s look at a few who led teams this year:
- Former mover and compliance specialist Julie Warren joined the Trinity College women’s program and their two collegiate 4+s for a day of racing.
- Alex Gavriel, former mover and current quality control representative, led his Brandeis University group through the excitement of race day.
- Theo Pritz, mover and quality control representative, joined his group of novice Harvard/Radcliffe women, but not at the starting line. His boat wasn’t racing, so he led a mighty charge with the annual fundraising bake sale. This time last year, Theo was accepting gold for his first-place finish with the Cornell University alumni 8+.
Another great Head Of The Charles regatta in the books, and another batch of fun memories and accomplishments for our Gentle Giant rowers. We are proud to call each one of them Giants and look forward to seeing what our employees and alums do next year!
Think you have what it takes to hang with this fine group of athletes? Check out our careers page and come join the team!