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Fueling for the Regatta

Fueling for Competition

Head vs Sprint Races



Head races are run over a course an average distance of 3 miles. Instead of being a distance race, it’s raced against the clock, with the goal being to have the fastest overall time with as few penalties as possible. Crews are started 10-15 seconds apart, allowing for faster crews to overtake slower ones along the course. Due to the length of the race, the cadence is much lower when compared to a sprint race. Head races are aptly nicknamed “the coxswain’s race” due to the winding turns along that river. Navigating these turns as efficiently as possible aids the crew in achieving a fast overall time.  


 In college races, rowers cover a course of 2000m whereas in most high school races, rowers cover 1500m. They’re rowed somewhere between five and a half and eight minutes and at a much higher stroke rate than head races. Anywhere from 4-8 boats are lined up at the starting line, either through a floating start or on stake boats, after which the starting marshal will utilize one of the various starting calls followed by “Attention, GO” to begin the race. The end of the race (250-300m) is an all out, balls to the wall sprint.
Coxswains employ a different strategy with these races compared to head races because there is less distance to cover, which translates to the amount of time you have to make move running out very quickly. It is imperative for coxswains to have good control over the steering of the shell to ensure it travels the straightest line possible. If he/she is slaloming down the course, it can cost their crew a win. The intensity of the race overall is also heightened – it’s pure adrenaline from start to finish, which is an experience you can’t really comprehend until you experience it.
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