Head racing around the world

Head Races in the UK

Around the world, Head races are an integral part of the rowing season. Traditionally run over a much longer distance than side by side regattas, they are run in a time trial format with rolling starts. 

In the UK, the biggest Head races take place on a section of the Thames in London know as the Tideway.  This course is used for the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Races, which take place on the top of the incoming tide and crews race from Putney to Mortlake, a distance of 6.8km (4 1/4 Miles). The Head races use the course in the opposite direction starting and Mortlake and finishing in Putney, on the outgoing tide.  There are 8 major Head races held on the Tideway each winter winter including the Head of the River Race (men's eights), Women's Head of the River (women's eights), the Fours Head (men and womens fours and quads), the Pairs Head and the Scullers Head.  For the Head of the River Race, entries are limited to 400 eights, with crews being turned away each year. 

The Head season runs over the winter from October to March, with smaller Head races taking place all round the UK. Clubs, universities and schools all compete in these races to break up the long winter training months and keep their athletes hungry for racing.

Head of the Charles - Boston, USA

Perhaps the most well known globally is a weekend long event called Head of the Charles, which takes place in Boston, USA. This event has taken place in October every year since 1965 and although it is a mainstay of the US rowing calendar, it attracts crews from all over the World.  The race is run upstream over 4.8km (3 miles) and takes crews right through the centre of Boston. The course has plenty of bends and bridges meaning a great coxswain is worth their weight in gold. 

Photo credit to Steve McArthur @rowingcelebration

Photo credit to Steve McArthur @rowingcelebration