Rules of Racing

All coaches and coxswains are requested to be present at the Coaches & Coxswains meeting on Friday, November 4th. The time and location will be announced prior to the regatta. You can print out the C&C presentation ahead of time and circulate it to all your coxswains and team captains. If you are not able to attend this meeting, you are still responsible for the information. For more details see the Coaches & Coxswains page.
  • 1- REGISTRATION: The complete registration process and dates can be found on the registration page.
    • 1.1-All boats must register in the designated registration window. No late entries will be allowed.
    • 1.2-Guaranteed Entry Codes (GECs) will be provided to all boats within 10% of winning adjusted time in each event of the prior year’s Head of the Hooch. If there are no results from the prior year, the next available year’s results will be used.
      • 1.2.1-GECs are sent to the email address on file for the previous year’s registrant. Contact the registrar prior to registration opening if you do not receive your GEC. The Hooch is not responsible if you do not receive your code.
      • 1.2.2-GECs must be used while registering on RegattaCentral. If your entry does not have one, it will be placed in the lottery draw and will not be seeded should it be accepted.
      • 1.2.3-GECs can only be used by the same crew to enter the event for which they were earned. With the following exceptions: Singles entries must be used by the same rower and can be used in any 1x event. College & Club event winners that medaled in the previous year will receive GECs for the respective Championship event.
      • 1.2.4-A GEC only guarantees you an entry if you register within the registration period.
      • 1.2.5-If you receive a GEC for an event that you do not/no longer qualify for please contact the registrar. 
    • 1.3-All non-guaranteed entries will be placed into a lottery for their event and chosen as detailed on the registration page.
    • 1.4-Rowers can only be entered under one club name. 
    • 1.5-Crews are responsible for entering their boats in the correct event. If you are entered in the wrong event your entry cannot be moved after the lottery draw. If you do not meet the requirements for the event, your entry will be forfeited.
    • 1.6-Any crew with unpaid fees from the previous year’s Hooch will not be allowed to enter until their balance is paid.
    • 1.7-No boats will be entered into the Hooch after the bow draw has been posted.
    • 1.8-Registered boats that “no show” on regatta weekend may have themselves or their crew barred from racing in the next year’s Head of the Hooch.
    • 1.9-The organizing committee reserves the right to adjust event caps based on demand.
    • 1.10-All crews should pick up their bow numbers at least 2 hours prior to their first race. 
  • 2- EVENT DEFINITIONS: Complete event definitions can be found on our event definitions page.
    • 2.1-Novice Events: Limited to scullers, rowers and coxswains who have been competing for one year or less as of the first Regatta Day. Experience in sculling events does not count as experience in sweep events and vice versa.
    • 2.2-Composite Boats: Must meet the following requirements: An 8+ cannot contain more than 4 members of the same club, and a 4x/4+/4- cannot contain more than 2 members of the same club, and 2x/2- cannot contain 2 members of the same club. Coxswains are not included in the count.
    • 2.3-Mixed Crews: Shall not be comprised of more than 75% of men or women. Coxswains may be of either gender.
    • 2.4-Men’s or Women’s Events: Men’s events are for male scullers and rowers only. Women’s events are for female scullers and rowers only. Coxswains may be of either gender.
  • 3- COXSWAINS:
    • 3.1-Youth Events: Coxswains who are defined by USRA rules as a “junior” are limited to Head of the Hooch events labeled “Youth”, “Youth Lightweight”, or “Youth Novice” with no exceptionsHowever, they are not bound by the rules defining a Youth Novice. For example, a Youth Varsity rower may cox a Youth Novice boat if desired.
    • 3.2-Masters and Collegiate: Coxswains are not subject to any restrictions, and may cox a boat of any age category, skill level or gender. However, they are not permitted to cox any Youth boats.
    • 3.3-Weight: There are no weight requirements for coxswains.
  • 4- SEEDING AND BOW NUMBER DRAW
    • 4.1-Seeding: To be seeded boats must be registered with a Guaranteed Entry Code (GEC). Boats without a GEC will not be seeded during the bow draw.
      • 4.1.1-Boats will be seeded based on prior year’s raw finishing times, including in handicapped events.
    • 4.2-Bow Draw: Bow numbers are assigned sequentially according to the following order:
      • 4.2.1-Seeded boats: Top 10% of winning adjusted time in each event of the prior year’s Head of the Hooch. If there are no results from the prior year, the next available year’s results will be used.
      • 4.2.2-Random draw from the remaining entries until one boat has been placed for each organization. Unseeded composite entries will be drawn in this group.
      • 4.2.3-Random draw from the remaining entries until a second boat has been placed for each organization (repeated until all boats have been placed).
      • 4.2.4-Note: Within a single organization, boats are placed by designation (A, B, etc.); entering several boats with the ‘A’ designation will not result in better bow number assignments.
      • 4.2.5-Note: Swapping boat lineups to ‘trade’ bow numbers is not permitted.  Lineup swaps in masters and alumni events is expressly prohibited.
    • 4.3-Once posted, the bow number draw is final. 
  • 5- MASTERS HANDICAP
    • 5.1-Handicap is calculated based on the following formula:
      • HC= (age – 27)2 * K
      • K= .100 for 8+’s and 4x’s, .108 for 2x’s and 4’s, and .125 for 1x’s and 2-’s
    • 5.2-For Master 2x, 4x, 4+, and 8+ the age of the crew will be the average of the rowers (except for coxswain). Handicaps are rounded to the nearest second. When the average age is 27 or below the handicap will be zero.
    • 5.3-The correct age must be provided for each crew member. If any age is missing, no handicap will be assigned to the boat. Any handicap corrections must be made online prior to the deadline for lineup changes. No handicap changes will be accepted on the day of the race.
  • 6- WEIGH-IN:
    • 6.1-Athletes must weigh-in at least one hour preceding their first race
    • 6.2-Athletes may weigh-in at any of the following times: Friday 1:00pm to 8:00pm, Saturday 7:00am to 2:00pm, Sunday 6:00am to 10:00am.
    • 6.3-Athletes in the same boat do not need to weigh-in together
    • 6.4-There will be no boat weight averaging for lightweights of either gender.
    • 6.5-Lightweight weights:
      • 6.5.1-Male Youth Rowers will have a maximum weight of 150 lbs.
      • 6.5.2-Male Rowers in all other age groups will have a maximum weight of 160 lbs.
      • 6.5.3-Female Rowers in all age groups will have a maximum weight of 130 lbs.
  • 7- EQUIPMENT AND BOW NUMBERS:
    • 7.1-All boats must conform to the USRowing regulations regarding construction and design detailed in Article III, Part A of the 2015 Rules of Rowing.
    • 7.2-All boats will be inspected by referees to insure they conform to the USRowing regulations. If any boat does not conform, that boat will not be allowed to launch. This inspection will occur either on Friday or immediately prior to launch Saturday and Sunday. Once boats have been checked, they will be tagged so that they do not have to be checked again for subsequent races.
    • 7.3-Bow numbers: All boats racing must carry a bow number, provided by the Hooch, denoting their assigned starting position. Bow numbers must be returned to the dock volunteers as boats come off the water.
    • 7.4-Shirt numbers: All boats racing must have their bow number pinned to back of the bowman. The Hooch will provide safety pins and number placards.
  • 8- LAUNCHING:
    • 8.1-Practice session: The racecourse will be open for practice from 12:00pm to 6:00pm on the Friday before the regatta, no boats shall be allowed to launch before noon or after 5:30pm. 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.
    • 8.2-Launch Rules: Boats must queue for launch in bow number order. All oars must be placed on the grass area near the dock from which boats are launching before boats are permitted down the ramps accessing the launch area. No launching will be permitted from the UTC docks or the Lookout Rowing Club docks.
    • 8.3-For safety purposes and efficiency of starting boats, the Hooch asks coaches to not send first time or inexperienced coxswains out on the water. If, in the judgment of the Dockmaster or Start Marshal, a coxswain is considered too inexperienced, the boat will be not be allowed to race.
    • 8.4-Launch schedule: Launch schedules will be announced during the Coaches’ & Coxswains’ Meeting Friday before the regatta. There will be only one call to launch prior to each event. The launch officials at Control Commission will encourage all boats to launch on time, but it is expected that crews be aware of their launch times and not depend solely on calls to launch from regatta officials.
    • 8.5-Registered boats failing to launch during the appropriate launch window for their race will not be allowed to race.
    • 8.6-Traffic pattern: The start line is located approximately three and one quarter miles upstream from the boat launching area. Buoys will separate the racecourse from the upstream traffic. Boats are required to keep to the port (North) side of the river while proceeding to the start. See Course Map
  • 9- AT THE START:
    • 9.1-On time starting will be strictly enforced. All crews must be at the marshaling area 10 minutes before the scheduled starting time of their race. Late starts will not be permitted. The Hooch Organizing Committee will schedule launch times to allow sufficient time to row to the start with consideration for the Tennessee River current on each race day. It is expected that crews row at a brisk pace to the start line to ensure that racing can proceed on schedule. The race will be with the current, whereas rowing to the start will be against the current. Make sure that you allow enough time to row up to the start.
    • 9.2-Crews are responsible for maintaining proper position at the start; bow number is not a guarantee of start order
    • 9.3-Marshals will be positioned in launches in the starting area for the purpose of organizing participating crews above the start into the proper starting order and time interval. Boats must be in the starting area in sequential start order at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start time – late starts will not be permitted.
    • 9.4-Crews shall be responsible for maintaining their proper starting position, for maintaining the proper interval between themselves and other crews and for aligning themselves in the starting chute.
    • 9.5-Crews will be called to the start chute on approximately ten second intervals.
    • 9.6-All crews not currently involved in the staging of the start shall yield to crews being summoned by the Start Marshal. Interference with the staging of the start shall result in a penalty.
    • 9.7-Time permitting, the Start Marshal shall provide for a sufficient amount of time between events so that crews in different events do not overlap at the finish line. If delays occur the marshal will work to get all boats on the course with the least event overlap possible.
  • 10- ON THE COURSE:
    • 10.1-One crew is deemed to be overtaking another crew when it has moved to within one length of open water of the crew ahead. On the portions of the course that are straight, a crew being overtaken shall move to the starboard and allow the overtaking crew to pass. Where the course turns, a crew being overtaken shall move to the outside of the turn and allow the overtaking crew to pass along the shorter path. Strokes in coxed boats shall advise their coxswains when an approaching boat closes to within one boat length of open water.
  • 11- PENALTIES: To be able to launch, race and recover over 2,000 boats on Saturday and Sunday, we need to be very efficient both on and off the water. The following penalties can be assessed:
    • 11.1-A 30 second penalty will be assessed to crews that exceed the allowed dock times: 3 minutes for 8+s, 2 minutes for all other boats.
    • 11.2-10 second penalty for passing a buoy on the wrong side
    • 11.3-10 second penalty for failing to follow Officials’ instructions
    • 11.4-20 second penalty for interfering with start staging
    • 11.5-30 second penalty for failing to yield to crew with right-of-way
    • 11.6-60 second penalty for crossing the starting line without required bow number
    • 11.7-Crews urinating in the Tennessee River are subject to disqualification.
  • 12- THE FINISH:
    • 12.1-Crews will be disqualified if they cross the finish line missing a crew member. After crossing the finish line, crews shall continue to row and slowly proceed to the turnaround area as marked by red buoys, avoiding interference with other crews.
    • 12.2-Protests: Shall be made in accordance with USRowing rule, 2-605. Intent to file a protest must be indicated to an official on the water immediately following the finish of a race. It must be done before the crew leaves the finish area and before arriving at the takeout docks. After a crew returns to the takeout docks, all rights to protest are waived. The regatta will consider the protest from a coach or coaching representative per USRowing rules. A fee of $25 is charged for each protest. The protest must be filed with the Control Commission, located in the boat launch area, and the fee must be paid within 45 minutes of the last boat finish time for the race in question.
    • 12.3-Appeals: The Regatta Jury will consider appeals from crews who have been assessed a penalty. No crew shall receive a time advantage from a decision by the Jury.
    • 12.4-Hot seatingThe Head of the Hooch does not have “hot seating” in the traditional sense and changing a crew in a boat on the water is prohibited. When in the finish area, crews will show referees on the water a designated card (see below). Crews with the “hot seat” card will receive an expedited approach to the recovery dock, provided there is a safe path to do so as determined by the referees. The crew must then take the boat out of the water and move to the designated area for hot seating near the river pier. The new crew taking control of the boat will pick up the boat and join the queue for boats going onto the racecourse from the launch dock. Crews will not hot seat on, or relaunch from, the recovery dock.
      • 12.4.1-Important: Boats wanting to hot seat must have the coxswain pick up an orange card at Control Commission. Hot seat cards will be available from noon on Friday through Sunday. The coxswain should display the card over his/her head for the referees on the water and the dockmaster to see as they approach the return dock.
    • 12.5-Results: All race results become “Official” 45 minutes following the last boat to finish in an event if no protests are pending.