Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

A hub for rowers

4 min read

Competitive spirit, camaraderie set tone at Weld Boathouse

As Gustav Mahler worked to complete the orchestration for his Symphony No. 7 in 1906, he discovered the final element for his opening motif in the sound of a rower dipping oars in the water and lightly skimming the surface in recoiling the stroke.

In Cambridge that same year, a permanent home for the art and sport of rowing was established when the family of George Walker Weld built the Weld Boathouse. With 8 miles fit for rowing and a six-lane, 2,000-meter racecourse, the Charles River is a favored site for the sport, used by some of the country’s finest collegiate programs. Weld Boathouse is home to the Radcliffe lightweight and heavyweight crews, as well as Harvard’s recreational sculling and intramural House crew programs. It also supports a wide range of fitness programs, including yoga, cycling, and weight training.

For Mark Abelson, training for the Head of the Charles masters’ division under athletics pro Dan Boyne, who has worked in the boathouse for 27 years, has provided a steady thrill.

“There is nothing more steeped in tradition than launching a shell out of the historic Weld Boathouse and nothing more exciting and making you want to bend an oar than having the great Harvard coach Dan Boyne instructing you from the launch through his Crimson megaphone,” said Abelson, a professor of ophthalmology.

As Marina Felix ’19 read through coursework while training on the spinning machine, she described the high level of athleticism, and fellowship, in Weld Boathouse.

“There’s a fine line in rowing that exists between teammates: We have to balance a fierce competitive drive with a crucial sense of camaraderie. I’ve never found myself to be a part of a team that has achieved this balance quite as effortlessly as the Radcliffe varsity lightweights.”

Radcliffe heavyweight crew team member Emily Gaudiani ’17 said she’s been grateful for the “incredible experience” and “privilege” of training at Weld.

“To be in a boathouse that is primarily all-women builds an incredible sense of comfort and camaraderie that is palpable the moment you walk in,” she said. “Radcliffe Crew has an impressive history, and the efforts and successes of all the women who have rowed in the bslack and white are memorialized throughout Weld, reminding all the current athletes of the incredible lineage that we try to uphold with every stroke we take.”

Dan Boyne, who has worked at the Weld Boathouse for 27 years, coaches athletes for the Head of the Charles Regatta.
Liz O’Leary (right), head coach of the women’s heavyweight crew, talks with team members Mary Carmack ’16 (from left) and Lauren Tracey ’17 after practice.
GSAS student Ben Oseroff stretches after training for the Head of the Charles. Mark Abelson, professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, planks in the background.
Overview of Weld Boathouse and Weeks Bridge.
With Harvard Business School as a backdrop, rowers return to Weld Boathouse.
Radcliffe crew team members Mary Carmack ’16 (front) and Emily Gaudiani ’17 exercise on rowing machines.
Kevin McGrath, an associate of the Department of South Asian Studies, carries his boat.
Harvard Medical School Professor Mark Abelson, a former professional water skier, shows calluses from training.
Princeton University rower Gevvie Stone, who is in training for the Olympics, rests in a team room beneath historical trophies.
Radcliffe lightweight crew team member Marina Felix ’19 does coursework while spinning on a bike machine.
Professor of Ophthalmology Mark Abelson trains on a rowing machine.
Details of a Weld Boat Club trophy from 1897.
This historical photo shows a 1972 practice on the Charles River.
Detail of a bust of George Walker Weld, the boathouse benefactor.
Emily Gaudiani ’17 carries oars into Weld Boathouse.
Kathy Keeler, an Olympic gold medalist, volunteer coach with the Radcliffe crew team, and widow of the late Harry Parker (the Thomas Bolles Head Coach for Harvard men’s heavyweight crew for 51 seasons), works out on a rowing machine inside Weld Boathouse.
Ellen Kennelly ’85 created this glass sculpture for the ceiling of Weld Boathouse. The piece was commissioned by the Friends of Harvard and Radcliffe Rowing for Weld’s centennial in 2006.
Harvard Medical School’s Mark Abelson (right) trains for the Head of the Charles Regatta.