New Race Trophies Named for Long-Time Volunteers

By Abigail Hembree – Posted on October 20, 2019

HOCR Executive Director Fred Schoch pours champagne into the Jack Bakey Cup as the honoree watches. (Photo by Samantha Barry)

Collectively they represent nearly 150 years of service to the Head of the Charles, and in a Sunday ceremony on the Cambridge Boat Club dock, the Regatta honored Steve Carr, Tom Tiffany and Jack Bakey by naming three new race trophies in their honor.

Steve Carr, the regatta’s longtime volunteer race director, won the Championship Four race while a Harvard undergraduate. Nearly five decades later, the 2019 Men’s Championship Four winner will be presented the newly created Steve Carr trophy. “It’s an incredible honor,” he said. “It particularly means a lot to me because in my first race at the Head of the Charles, I won the event that the trophy is awarded for.” Carr says he was surprised to have the trophy named after him. Carr was not expecting this recognition, especially since “I didn’t have to die to have it named after me,” he said while smiling.

Two years after completing his college rowing career, Carr returned to the regatta as a volunteer in 1976. “I had joined the Cambridge Boat Club and was rowing with three other guys that were very active [with the regatta], D’Arcy McMahon being one of them,” Carr said. McMahon was one of the founders of the HOCR, and very quickly got his new boatmate involved. “Within a couple of years, I was immersed completely,” said Carr. “I couldn’t extract myself. I stayed involved at different levels over the years.”

Although Carr no longer rows in the race, and his volunteering is less intense than it once was, he is still involved, in a rather visible and singular way. “I’m in charge of all of the foreign country flags,” he said rather proudly, of the international flags that line the roof of the Cambridge Boat Club on Regatta weekend, representing the nations of every athlete in the field. It’s a tradition he began when he was race director in 1980, and the Head of the Charles saw an explosion of international entries after the boycott of the Moscow Olympics.  “We have 52 flags flying today and we have four we are having to find a spot for,” he said.

The flags representing the international crews speak to the only a part of the growth and impact of the Regatta that Carr has witnessed though the decades. He notes with great pride that the Head of the Charles “has been a leader for rowing in this country.”

“We were the first regatta to allow women to row, and the first regatta to have masters and veteran rowing events for people after they got out of college. Now we have become a leader in youth rowing which is the biggest demographic growth here in rowing. That really is remarkable.

“I love the beauty and rhythm of the sport,” Carr says. “It’s a labor of love,” he says regarding the Head of the Charles.

Steve Carr (L) and Tom Tiffany at Sunday’s trophy ceremony. (Photo by Samantha Barry)

Tom Tiffany has left his mark on all facets of the sport. A former Harvard coxswain and a mainstay at the Head of the Charles for decades, Tiffany’s main sphere of influence was in coaching. He has coached various crews of all ages for over forty years. The trophy with his name will be presented to the winner of the Women’s Youth Four event, a fitting recognition, given his years of coaching young athletes. But he said his favorite part of coaching was seeing some of those young rowers return to the sport after taking a break. “The thing that amazes me is that some people get into it [rowing] and then get out of it. Then they get back into it later and do it for the rest of their lives,” he said. “[Rowing] means a lot to both ages, young and old.”

Tom Tiffany (Photo by Abigail Hembree)

A lively and encouraging personality, Tiffany, like his fellow honorees, was surprised at the honor. “I can’t believe it,” he said. But his countless friends in the sport can surely believe it, as could any bystander who watched as friend after friend came up to Tiffany as he watched the Regatta from the Director’s Tent on Saturday afternoon. Tiffany has been relegated to the sidelines as he recovers from a stroke suffered more than a year ago, and those friends made sure he knows how much he is missed. Chuck Pieper, a longtime managing director of the Head of the Charles, embraced Tiffany, calling him one of “the heartlands of rowing in Boston.” Another passing friend made certain the reporter talking to Tiffany knew he was “the greatest coxswain of all time.”

Tiffany misses rowing as much as the sport misses him. “One thing I miss about rowing is I can’t get in and do it anymore,” he said. Despite his inability to row or coach, he remains an inspiration to rowers, and non-rowers alike. “At any point in life, you want to [start rowing], you should generally do it.”

The third trophy, to be presented to the champion of the men’s lightweight eight event, will honor Jack Bakey, a presence at the Regatta is each of its 55 years. Bakey was a state trooper assigned to the Regatta in its early years. After retiring from the State Police, he stayed on at the Regatta, first as a security liaison, and then as a little bit of everything else. He was unavailable to talk about his long and varied service to the Head of the Charles on Saturday. He was out delivering lunches, and doing whatever else needed to be done. Volunteering, for 55 years and counting.