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Regatta Notebook

By the river, splashed by sun

Weekend highlighted by weather, records

Fans lined the riverbanks on a beautiful summer-like day to take in the Head of the Charles. The two-day attendance total was estimated at 305,000. Fans lined the riverbanks on a beautiful summer-like day to take in the Head of the Charles. The two-day attendance total was estimated at 305,000. (DOMINIC CHAVEZ/GLOBE STAFF)

Two consecutive sunny, breezy, 70-degree days on the Charles on the third weekend in October? All but unheard of.

"We've had four or five weekends like this during my 16 years here, but this is the best in terms of warmth," exulted Fred Schoch, the regatta's executive director.

"The only negative was that fleece sales were down dramatically. But we printed 2,000 more T-shirts at midnight last night."

According to the State Police, 174,000 spectators lined the riverbanks yesterday, bringing the two-day total to an estimated 305,000. "It was a 'moving festival,' " said Schoch, "with people moving up and down the river."

With the west-southwest tailwind still blowing (albeit at a modest 10 miles an hour), five course records were set yesterday to make it 15 for the weekend. Besides the one posted by the US entry in the women's championship eights (15:26.57), marks were established in the women's senior veteran singles (Laurette Rindlaub, 25:34.78), women's veteran singles (Brooke Stevens of the Cambridge BC, 23:25.67), men's collegiate eights (Trinity, 14:58.70), and the director's challenge women's quad (Potomac, 17:12.75).

Grousbeck rows for cause

Making his first Head appearance in a quarter-century yesterday was Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, who competed in the mixed director's quad with David Fialkow (whom he taught to row) and former Olympians Cindy Matthes and Mary Mazzio.

"Cindy and Mary basically towed us around the course," said Grousbeck, whose row raised more than $200,000 in donations for the Perkins School for the Blind, which his son, Campbell, attends. Grousbeck, though, knows his way around a racing shell. He won a national championship with the Princeton lightweight varsity in 1983.

"That was the last banner I hung," he observed wryly.

Ready, set, qualify

The new rule that guarantees entry to next year's event to any boat finishing in the top half of the field in the eights and fours has received an enthusiastic thumbs-up from the rowers.

"The reaction has been very favorable," said Schoch. "It's a great target for people. They know if they have a better-than-average performance, they'll be back next year.

"It's incented a lot of crews."

Under the old rule, only boats that finished within 5 percent of the winning time earned an automatic return. If that rule still were in effect, just two of the championship women's eights (the US and Canadian national crews) and eight of the men's would have qualified for next year.

Drysdale goes wide

What happened to New Zealand's Mahe Drysdale, who had a five-second lead just past the midway point and ended up losing to Canada's Malcolm Howard in Saturday's men's championship singles?

"I took the corners pretty wide and had to stop rowing for a few strokes to make sure I didn't hit the [Eliot] bridge," the three-time world champion said yesterday, after he'd finished second by less than .7 seconds.

"It was a bit disappointing because I thought I had the race pretty much under control and I gave it away."

Back in winner's circle

Reclaiming his crown after a year off was Richard Kendall, who won the men's senior veteran singles for the seventh time in eight years. "Thankfully, Moses parted the waters for me," said the 77-year-old Kendall, who beat defending champion Carlo Zezza of the Cambridge BC by an age-adjusted 1.4 seconds. Kendall missed last year's race after undergoing prostate radiation. "They put me on medication that kept me asleep," he said. "It knocked the bejeezus out of me." . . . That camera crew on the Cambridge Boat Club dock filming passing boats was gathering Boston mood shots for Kate Hudson's upcoming movie, "Bachelor No. 2." . . . Due out in the spring is "Kelly: A Father, A Son, an American Quest" by Harvard sculling instructor Dan Boyne, which tells the tale of America's first family of rowing. Jack Kelly (father of actress Grace) won three sculling gold medals at the 1920 and 1924 Olympics and son Jack Jr., a four-time Olympian, earned the 1956 bronze in the single, the last by a US male. The publisher is Connecticut's Mystic Seaport Press . . . The new computerized results system from sponsor Accenture proved a boon for rowing buffs, who can contrast boats by their clockings at the three intermediate stations (the Riverside, Weld, and Cambridge boathouses) and follow the performance of multiple boats at once. "It's the ability to sort and compare," said Edward Gottsman, a senior executive for the New York-based consulting firm, which set up results kiosks along the course.

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