Race Course + Venue

Updated September 30th, 2016. A 2017 Venue Map is available here.

Race Course

The race course for the Head of the Hooch is shown on the Race Course map. The course rotation will be clockwise i.e., the upstream route to the start line is shown in green, and the downstream racing route is shown in red. Special course markers and buoys will be in place at launch, return, start and finish of the regatta as well as throughout the course. All crews are asked to pay attention to these course markings for the safety of all participants. Please note that crossing the racecourse will not be permitted.

Friday Practice

  • The race course will be open for practice from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Friday before the regatta, no boats shall be allowed to launch before noon or after 5:30 pm. Regatta marshals will be on the course during the practice. No practice will be allowed on race days.
  • During practice, race traffic patterns (stay to the left, port side) apply throughout the course. Penalties of 1 minute or disqualification from the regatta may be assessed for violation of this rule. All race weekend launch and recovery traffic patterns will also apply.
  • Crews in small boats (1x, 2x, 2-) wishing to row a portion of the course during practice may turn after the East end of the island and merge into the traffic pattern in the racing lane of the course. Turning crews must yield to crews in the traffic pattern from the start area when entering the course. A course marshal may be located in this area; if so, crews must follow any instructions given to them or risk a penalty.

Team Tents

Team tents will be allowed on the grass behind the concrete seating areas and at other locations as identified here. Teams may begin setting up tents Thursday at noon. Tents must be placed in designated areas only. In order to allow a river view for more teams, tent width in the direction of the river may not exceed 20 feet. Most tent locations will allow teams to view the race/finish line. Tent stakes must be no longer than four inches to prevent damage to water lines and power conduits. Alternately, tents may be water weighted. Note: cooking and running generators will not be permitted in the viewing area. This will only be permissible in the grass area between the aquarium buildings. No cooking trailers or mobile generators may be driven on the grass, only portable units are permissible. Teams with cooking gear must bring a fire extinguisher for use in the event of a fire emergency. For more information or questions, please contact: venue@headofthehooch.org

Alcohol consumption is not permitted at the Head of the Hooch or on the venue grounds.

Narrow river sections

There are several narrow sections on the course where the navigation channel comes close to shore and at bridges:

  • A narrow section on the North shore in the turn as boats proceed to the start line
  • A narrow chute at the start of the race just past the start line; watch for the red steel channel marker
  • A narrow section at the island approaching the finish
  • Narrow sections at the two bridges as boats approach the finish

River traffic

Due to the large number of entries, the TVA has agreed to close the Tennessee River to all commercial and personal watercraft. This will be a tremendous help in running the number of boats entered in the regatta safely.

Rowing to the start

  • Assemble your crew at least 30 minutes before your race is called.
  • Place your oars near the launch dock scheduled for your race before your race. Please check the race schedule posted at the regatta site on race day to determine which dock your race will launch from. This is typically only an issue in the mornings when both launch and recovery docks will be used for launching.
  • Pay close attention to Control Commission call to launch. Please launch when your race is called to avoid congestion at the docks.
  • Move quickly onto the dock when Dockmaster gives instructions to do so.
  • Move quickly off the dock and immediately row away from the dock so that the Tennessee River current does not push your crew back onto the dock.
  • Row to the start area with purpose. Do not delay. If prompted by Regatta Officials to move along more quickly, please comply. There is no time to wait for crews that are late to the start.
  • Start Marshals will ask you to stay pointed upstream at various stations near the start. These stations are marked by large rectangular green buoys. They are numbered so that you know which station to row to.
  • Plan to be at Buoy #1 not less than 10 minutes or more than 15 minutes before your scheduled race. Crews that arrive too early and impede (block) other crews may be subject to a penalty.
  • As you approach Buoy #1, sort yourselves out in roughly numerical order by bow number. At Buoy #1, you should be within five bow numbers of the bow numbers around you.
  • The marshal will send you in a group of 10 to the next buoy. Row immediately with all rowers on the paddle when instructed and do not wait for exact bow number order.
  • Before you are asked to bring your crew across the river and row to the start, remove warm-up gear so you are ready to race.

Get ready to start

  • You will be sent across the river in groups of 3 to 5. Do not wait for exact bow number order; begin to row immediately when instructed.
  • Once you have crossed the river, you will be instructed to row toward the start chute in numerical order. Follow the crew in front of you by about 1 length of open water.
  • A marshal will be located about 200 meters before the start to space the crews by about 15 to 20 seconds. Crews must speed up or slow down as instructed by this Marshal. Novice crews should be particularly aware of this.
  • Crews should build to full pressure and race pace as they approach the start line. Do not catch up with or pass another boat in the chute before the start or you will be subject to a penalty.
  • The start line is set so that the start boat is located right at the red steel channel marker. This allows the start chute to be wider and avoids the possibility of hitting the red channel marker.