This weekend, rowers from all over the world will stream in to Philadelphia for the renowned Thomas Eakins Head of the Schuylkill Regatta, returning Saturday and Sunday, October 26 and 27.
What began with just 160 rowers in 1971 is now the the largest one-day rowing competition in the world — and it’s right here in Philadelphia.
The 2.5-mile race invites more than 6,500 competitors of all ages and skill levels, from high school to veteran rowers, to test their racing mettle on the Schuylkill River.
Due to the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta’s growing popularity, the race became a two-day event back in 2008, and it has continued to gain momentum every year, with an expected 5,000 to 8,000 spectators watching from the riverside. This year, the regatta is also part of the month-long international expo, Global Philly.
Note that there is no cost for admission to watch the rowing action. Just arrive, find a great vantage point and take in an exciting Philadelphia tradition.
So, get ready to welcome action on the river this season as this exciting event once again takes to the shores and water of the Schuylkill River.
See below for our guide to this year’s Head of the Schuylkill Regatta.
The regatta invites one and all to come and watch the racing action. The course starts above the Strawberry Mansion Bridge and follows a 2.5-mile path to its finish, right above Boathouse Row.
The main festival tent (and boat launch for out-of-town competitors) is located approximately one mile north of Boathouse Row, right by the Three Angels Statues, and is the heart of the spectacle.
At the finish line at Boathouse Row, attendees will be able to find out race results and check out the on-site sports desk, which announces the races and offers commentary on teams and competitors.
For a complete course map see below and for a full schedule of events, click here.
Where to Watch
The annual race attracts not only many thousands of competitors, but also thousands of spectators. One and all are invited to watch the crews in action — we recommend the Columbia Avenue Bridge as a vantage point. It’s surrounded by two of the three boat docks, and is close to the festival tent.
There are also grandstands situated just north of the Columbia Avenue Bridge, as well as great views and plenty of festival-style action at the festival tent.
Prepare yourself for intense racing. The field of competitors is wide, with crews from more than 150 high schools and colleges from Massachusetts to the mid-west, with local schools notably represented.
Races begin at 8 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, with the final races on Saturday and Sunday at 3:15 p.m.
On Saturday, college crews race along with the majority of elite and masters rowers. Sunday showcases the races of high schools, as well as other elite, masters and veteran rowers.
For the first time, men’s and women’s high school and college alumni boats will race on Saturday. Another recent scheduling change now allows competitors to row multiple races, too.
See the full schedule of races here.
The Festival Tent
For food, drink, souvenirs and rower meet-and-greets, report directly to the festival tent at the Three Angels Statues.
Plenty of food will be on-hand, with Winnie’s LeBus as the official food vendor dishing a festival-appropriate menu. Attendees are welcome to pack a picnic.
Want to meet one of the athletes? Many former and current Olympians compete in the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta and present medals during the awards ceremonies, which all take place in the festival tent. Some athletes will be available for autographs, too.
There will be an ATM machine located in the festival tent, and, yup, plenty of portable bathroom facilities.
Getting There & Staying Over
The folks at the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta make it as easy as possible to navigate to the event.
Diversion routes will be posted since much of Kelly Drive will be closed off. There will be easily accessible paid off-site parking lots along the diversion routes. All-day parking costs $12 and free shuttle buses will run from the lots along the race course.
Those arriving on foot or by public transportation can catch the free shuttle bus outside Lloyd Hall directly behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The event is also easily accessible by bike. For updates on parking, traffic and security, click here.
Check out the full regatta course map, below.
See you on the Schuylkill!
Thomas Eakins Head of the Schuylkill Regatta
When: October 26-27
Where: Kelly Drive
More info: www.hosr.org