Charles River – MIT / Harvard

Charles River, the Mecca of college sailing. Dimensions are similar to Upper Mystic Lake, less than one mile long by less than a half mile wide. The orientation is different however, with the long axis running WSW to ENE. North and Northwest are always shifty, especially near the finish not far from the rotation dock. The West wind is the steadiest with the potential for small waves if the wind is high enough. No wind direction is truly steady but winds that align with the long axis are less shifty than the winds blowing across. If there is a geographical pattern, it is that the wind tends to blow perpendicular from a shoreline. This would indicate sailing towards a shore but with a huge caution. The wind gets lighter near shore so you never want to go too close. For example, when the mark is in the NW corner, you want to stay away from the land as you approach the mark because any shift or puff from the land will only last a few seconds. Better to approach on port tack with more consistent wind from beyond the Mass Ave. Bridge.

Heavy recreational traffic is part of the game on the Charles. While some racers are frustrated by rec sailors in their way, others take advantage. Skip Whyte, ex-URI great and long time coach used to “Manipulate the blockers.” Of course if you try this you will want to avoid being obnoxious in the process.

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