Feature Stories Campus Events All Stories

Chris Collins ’54, Champion Rower

Christopher Collins, a 1954 graduate of Washington and Lee University, returned to Boston on Oct. 17 to defend his title in the Grand Veterans age group at the Head of the Charles Regatta rowing festival. It’s the largest two-day rowing event in the world and is attended by some of the world’s best rowers.

The 82-year-old, who has participated in every Head of the Charles since 1994, rowed the course in 23:43, marking his seventh victory in the single sculler race.

In an interview with the Boston Globe, Chris said he discovered his talent in his 60s when he used a rowing machine at the gym to get into shape. Ever since, he has been competing at the top of his division in rowing events all over the East Coast. Fellow rower Carlo Zezza, a three-time Senior Veteran II winner, who rowed for Harvard in college, described Collin’s stroke as “truly original…there’s none other like it.”

Chris grew up on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley before attending W&L. During World War II he served on submarines for the Navy, after which he worked as a tour guide in the U.S.S.R. Eventually, after teaching and writing about Russian literature, Chris became a real estate broker with Virginia Estates.

His accomplishments on the water are clear considering he still holds the course record for the Veterans Singles Division at the Head of the Charles Regatta, set in 2001.

– by Wesley Sigmond ’16

If you know any W&L alumni who would be great profile subjects, tell us about them! Nominate them for a web profile.