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Heads and Regattas - What They Are:

Head races are held off season – September to March- and are effectively time trials, i.e. one boat at a time races along a specified course and each crew is ranked on how quickly they complete the distance (2km or more, but often around 5 km).

Regattas are shorter races (held from April to August) of up to 2,000 m where two or more crews race side by side along the course. This is the Olympic racing format and some think is the most interesting to compete in and watch.

All the rowers appreciate having snacks for after the races.  Flapjacks, bananas and cakes are especially welcome.  Feel free to bring food along for the whole crew.  It is also worth bringing something to sit on and binoculars and cameras. Please be aware that your rowers are there to compete.  Before each race they will be rigging boats, listening to the coaches getting the boats onto the water.  After the races there will be debriefs and boats to dismantle.  Please be considerate to the rowers and coaches during this time. They will not have much time to sit with you and chat.

The Ones to Watch

Kingston Small Boats Head – local head race, best watched from the other side of the river to the boathouse just down from Ditton Skiff Club or in the pubs and restaurants along the river in Kingston.

Teddington Small Boats Head.

Hampton Small Boats Head – best watched from Hurst Park.  Close to finish with tea and cake provided by Hampton/LEH parents.

Christmas Pudding Races – fun event held at various school boat clubs.

Hampton Head – as before.

Women’s Head – best watched from Hammersmith Bridge.

Schools Head – best watched from Hammersmith Bridge.

Junior Sculling Head – Dorney Lake, 2012 Olympic Rowing venue.

Kingston Head – as before.

8’s Head - – best watched from Hammersmith Bridge.

Wallingford Regatta – Dorney Lake, 2012 Olympic Rowing venue.

Marlow Town Regatta – in Marlow, signposted from Marlow Bridge.

Thames Ditton – Our Home Regatta – a must see.  Best viewed from the riverbank along from the boathouse.  Beautiful views across the river to Hampton Court Palace.  Please come for the day, bring grandparents etc. and volunteer for a couple of hours to help with car parking and catering (we always have enough people so you will not miss your rower compete).

National Schools – This is the National event for schools held in Nottingham Holme Pierrepont.   It is a 3 day event with younger rowers competing on Friday and older rowers competing on Saturday and/or Sunday.  It is usually on the first weekend of the summer term half term.  We will have a number of tents next to the event where you can watch the rowing.

Peterborough Junior Champs

Henley Royal Regatta – Rowing can be watched from along the river bank or in the Regatta enclosure.  Parking is expensive (approx. £30/day).

Kingston Regatta – Best viewed upstream of Kingston Bridge on the other side of the river from the boat house.

British Rowing Champs – Held in Nottingham or Strathclyde.  

How to Spot Your Rower

All of the Heads and Regattas will print a race order and each boat will have a number.  These are usually posted on the event website a couple of days before the race.  Regattas will also print times for semi finals and finals.  The boats are given a category depending on the type of boat.

Third formers start off by rowing with two oars; this is known as sculling. In the Fourth form they progress to sweep rowing with one oar.

Sculling boats are:

 octoples (octos) – 8 rowers, 2 blades each (8x+)

 quadruples (quads) – 4 rowers, 2 blades each (4x+ or 4x-)

 doubles – 2 rowers, 2 blades each (2x)

 singles- 1 rower, 2 blades (1x)

Rowing boats are:

 eights (VIII) – 8 rowers, 1 blade each (8+)

 fours (IV) – 4 rowers, 1 blade each (4+ or 4-)

 pairs – 2 rowers, 1 blade each (2-).

Boat classifications specify the sex, age and/or expertise, the number of rowers, whether they are rowing or sculling and if they have a cox or not. Most commonly boats have 1, 2, 4 or 8 rowing seats.

Abbreviations on the race order are as follows:

 M  men

 W  women

 J junior

 E elite

 NV novice

 IM3... coding for senior racing categories according to points

 14 under 14 age group

 2... no. of people in boat

 x sculling

 + coxed boat

 - coxless boat

For example:

J154x+ would mean junior under 15 quad sculling with a cox and

J154- would mean junior under 15 rowing coxless four.

Look out for the red and white blades of the KGS boat.


We love to share photos and videos of the events.  Please visit the photos section of the website for more information.

Rowing Terminology


Rowers use blades (or oars) to propel the boat forward. There are different shapes of blade that have different names.


The riggers of a boat hold a pivot for the blade out from the side of the boat. The blade attaches to the pivot via a gate that sits at the end of the rigger.


Rowers sit on a seat. Usually the seat will move backwards and forwards on wheels to allow the rower greater movement. The runners on which the wheels sit are called the slide.


Rowers attach their feet to their boat via shoes fixed to a metal plate in the boat. This provides them with a stable base to push off.


Some boats have a cox who may sit in the front or back of the boat. In a coxed boat, the cox steers the boat and instructs the crew whilst also acting as a lookout.


The bow is the front end of the boat and it is also the name given to the rower who sits in the bow. Bow is also referred to as 'number one' and this is the rower who will cross the finishing line first. In a coxless boat the bowman often steers. As the oar is normally on the starboard (right) side of the boat, this is called ‘bow side’’.


The person at the back or the stern of the boat is called 'stroke' - in an eight he or she is 'number eight'. All the other rowers in the boat aim to follow the rhythm and rate set by the stroke. As the stroke’s oar is normally on the port side of the boat (left from

the cox’s viewpoint), this is called ‘‘stroke side’’.

The rest of the crew are numbered from bow (front) to stern (back) with bow being number 1. Usually therefore odd numbered crew members are on bow side and even on stroke side.

The rowers really appreciate you coming along to support and to cheer them on.  Please be aware that weather and river conditions mean that events may change at short notice.  If you can make it to every event, that is great.  If not, below is a list of the main Heads and Regattas during the year.  It shows the best place to watch your rower, what to bring and how to identify which races they are in.  If you can only spare the time to come along once or twice per term, the key events are underlined.