Hey, wanna’ buy a boat? -Head of the Charles River 2018

HEY, WANNA’ BUY A BOAT?

By Sophie Cannon – Posted on October 19, 2018. See the full article on the HOCR site here. 

You can’t actually buy a boat from a manufacturer at the Head of the Charles; there are business and tax matters preventing it. But you sure can shop for one, and virtually every boat-maker in the business is here, hoping to meet the rowers that use their boats, provide support, and maybe even start a few boat orders

Jeff Sturges, President and CEO of Resolute Racing Shells sitting at the company’s tent alongside the Charles River, is one of a handful of shell vendors.

Jeff Sturges of Resolute, smiling in front of his tent on the edge of the Charles River. // Photo by Sophie Cannon

“We are always happy to sell boats; that is our primary business,” Sturges said. “I keep my single [boat] up on the rack over there and people can come by and ask about it. We also have sold boats and we bring them down on our trailer and people who are coming from far, the west coast or Florida, will come by in their trailer and take them back to their new home!”

Delivering boats to customers is what most of the vendors do while in Boston this weekend, delivering between three and 15 boats over the next three days.

“We are delivering about 14 boats this weekend,” said Fabio Selvig of the Italian shell company, Filippi. “Those boat orders were placed in the last three months and those customers are picking them up now. Then we will go out and deliver the rest of the boats after the regatta.”

Since Filippi is an international brand, they come to the HOCR each year to meet their United States consumers and support the sport.

“We have been in business 26 years and been to every single Head of the Charles,” Selvig said. “It’s important to honor the sport and to honor your customers, but also to be one of the brands that’s able to attend and be present at such a prestigious event, especially when it’s in our hometown. It’s frankly an honor to have so many people using our boats and seeing them here.”

Selvig and his brother started rowing at Northeastern University in Boston, and then started working with elite athletes. When asked one day to make a call in Italian to Filippi, the brand hired them on to cater to the United States market.

The Filippi brothers, Northeastern graduates and ex-rowers, standing in front of their booth. // Photo by Sophie Cannon

Like Selvig, many of the shell retailers started as rowers. Jonathan Beare, the Pacific Sales and Media Manager for Hudson boats, has been coming to the Head of the Charles as a rower since 1995 and with Hudson for the past 14 years.

Besides rowing and selling boats, Beare helps with the Hudson sponsored Shark Zone, a corral on the river’s edge stocked with 50 boats rented out by around 70 different crews, many of whom are international and have no other way of getting boats to use for the race.

“This is one of the points during the year that we can really showcase our products and our presence,” Beare said. “Here in the Shark Zone we can provide a very exclusive experience for athletes and some of the world’s top scullers, boating out of our venue here.”

The Hudson “Shark Zone” — a place for international athletes to rent Hudson boats and relax between races. // Photo by Sophie Cannon

If one is in the market for a new boat, the banks of the Charles is a great starting point, but the whole process takes time, no matter what company you choose to manufacture it. The average time it takes to make a boat is around a month, not including the time it takes to ship. Breaking down the process, Sturges described the four stages from order to delivery.

“We start with lamination where we put the material into the molds,” Sturges explained. “The next step is assembly where we put the top half on the bottom half. Then we have painting, which is self-explanatory, and then we have rigging, where we rig to the customer’s specs, put the decals on and put in the seats and all that stuff.”

Put simply, “The Head of the Charles requires a rower and a boat. Without the boats, you don’t have a Head of the Charles,” said Sturges.

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