The Guy Who Started It All

D’Arcy MacMahon Returns to Starting Line for 50th HOCR

50 years of Regatta leadership. D'Arcy MacMahon, (L), and Fred Schoch. MacMahon helped found the Regatta in 1965, and served as executive director until Schoch came aboard in 1991.

By Bailey Putnam Published on October 19, 2014

“D’Arcy’s putting on the hometown push. Boy, does he know this course.” A voice boomed over the loudspeaker as D’Arcy MacMahon glided under the Eliot Bridge onto the final stretch of the Head Of The Charles Regatta.

Know the course he does, and for good reason: he’s the one who laid it out back in ’65, and the last remaining of the original four founders of the regatta.

The 75-year-old returned to the race he helped initiate after spending the past 25 regattas watching from the riverbank.

“It feels great to be back.” MacMahon said. “You feel like a fifth wheel a little bit when you come back and you’re not a volunteer or a rower. It felt good to be a part of it again and I’m glad I did it.”

MacMahon and 49 of the race’s most seasoned rowers kicked off the 50thannual Regatta just as the

MacMahon racing in Saturday's senior veterans race.

sun crept out of the clouds to greet them Saturday morning. Rowing in an old wooden shell that was used in the very first Head Of The Charles, MacMahon pushed steady. And though by the end he didn’t find himself near the top of his heat he also didn’t find himself in the water, which according to him means a successful comeback.

“My main goal was to get through the course without interfering with anybody else’s progress, without falling in the river or hitting a bridge and I didn’t do any of those things so I guess it was a success.”

MacMahon returns with the same mentality he had when organizing the first regatta in 1965, a mentality that he says is often forgotten in the current scope of the race.

“It’s not all about results, it’s about having fun. People who pay too much attention to results miss the whole point of this thing.”

Over the years as the extent of the race and the presence of corporate sponsors grew, MacMahon began easing his role in the Regatta’s organization. At one time he could be seen shuttling boats from the finish line to the start in an old station wagon while checking in on the timing and then somehow finding the time and energy to get in a boat and row the three miles before getting out to run around and perform some other myriad of tasks.

The station wagon has since been retired, the timing digitized, and MacMahon’s responsibilities we’re gradually lightened. In the 50th Regatta the seasoned rower traded in his old hectic schedule and adopted a more social roll.

“I stop in every now and then to cheer people on, encourage them to keep doing what they’re doing, tell them how much I appreciate them keeping the tradition going and tell them not to take it too seriously.”

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Make this year’s Head Of The Charles® a success. There are many opportunities to get involved over race weekend and before.