Head of the of Hooch, one country’s largest rowing regattas, offers two days of racing action on the water . downtown
The first Saturday and Sunday of November are significant to rowers: It’s the weekend of Head of the Hooch.
Head of the Hooch, one of the country’s largest rowing regattas, offers two days of racing action in downtown Chattanooga on the Tennessee River. The first race on Saturday, Nov. 4, is 8:45 a.m., the last at 6:24 p.m. Action Sunday, Nov. 5, starts at 8:15 a.m., with the last race at 2:25 p.m.
This regatta is a head race, meaning competing crews race on a course at different times pitted against each other, but their finishing times determine their places. Head of the Hooch competitors row a 5,000-meter course ( 3.1 miles) on the river, finishing at Ross’s Landing Park, 201 Riverfront Parkway.
Head of the Hooch, also known as the Head of the Chattahoochee, was founded in 1982 by the Atlanta Rowing Club. The first year saw 225 rowers enter filling 105 boats. For 16 years the regatta took place on the Chattahoochee River in Roswell, Ga.
In 1997, the regatta had outgrown Roswell River Park, and relocated to the 1996 Olympics rowing venue in Gainesville, Ga. The race continued to grow, necessitating another move in 2005 — this time to Ross’s Landing in Chattanooga. The regatta draws crews from across the country as well as having hosted teams from Canada, Germany, Sweden and Australia.
Following are some tips for spectators and first-time visitors to Chattanooga:
There are two types of boats ( shells) for two types of rowing: sweep rowing and sculling.
In sweep rowing, each rower has one oar about 12.5 feet long. In sculling, rowers use two oars, each about 9.5 feet in length.
Spectators have sev- eral choices of locations along the river from which they can follow the action.
The Walnut Street Bridge, a pedestrian bridge spanning the river, gives a bird’s-eye view of the race. Spectators can look down on the river and watch crews as they glide under the bridge. A good location for photographers.
Coolidge Park on the city’s North Shore is a good vantage point to see boats on their way to the starting line as well as crossing the finish line. A nice spot for a family picnic, or to take a folding chair and settle in for a pleasant day on the riverbank.
People with bikes may want to follow the racers by biking on the Tennessee Riverwalk, which parallels the course. To rent a bike, check out bikechattanooga.com.
A rowing team passes docked boats below the Walnut Street Bridge during a practice for last year’s Head of the Hooch.