Head of the Rock Regatta Oct. 6-7

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11914448505921.jpg’, ‘Photos courtesy of YMCA’, ‘Last year’s Head of the Rock Regatta (pictured) drew more than 1,500 rowers. More than 1,700 rowers from throughout the United States will gather Sunday, Oct. 7, in Rockford for the 22nd Annual Baird Head of the Rock Regatta, brought to you by the YMCA of the Rock River Valley’s Rowing Club. Participants hail from 60 rowing clubs and universities, and they’ll row 550 boats in 42 events. Saturday, Oct. 6, is an unstructured practice day, but there is a lot to see and do. The official races are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 7, starting at Martin Park near the Riverside Boulevard bridge, traversing a 2.75-mile course past parks, mansions and cityscapes to downtown Rockford’s Whitman Street bridge. Admission is free.‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11914448826763.jpg’, ”, ”);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11914449075411.jpg’, ”, ”);

In London, they do it on the Thames. In Boston, they do it on the Charles. And in Rockford, they do it on the Rock. It’s the sport (although some call it the art) of rowing.

Sunday, Oct. 7, more than 1,700 rowers from throughout the United States will gather in Rockford for the 22nd Annual Baird Head of the Rock Regatta, brought to you by the YMCA of the Rock River Valley’s Rowing Club. Participants hail from 60 rowing clubs and universities, and they’ll row 550 boats in 42 events.

It’s a glorious sight! Picture a crisp autumn day, a brilliant blue sky and hundreds of sculls skimming along the Rock River, powered by the synchronized muscle-action of precision rowing teams. It looks like poetry in motion, but it’s a strenuous sport. Rowers range from teens to seniors and novices to masters. There are men’s, women’s and mixed teams…as well as pairs, quads, octets and everything in between. Spectators may enjoy food, music vendors and college displays and alumni gatherings on the grounds of the race site.

Saturday, Oct. 6, is an unstructured practice day, but there is a lot to see and do. Most teams arrive by early afternoon and enjoy practice on the Rock River. The official races are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 7, starting at Martin Park near the Riverside Boulevard bridge, traversing a 2.75-mile course past parks, mansions and cityscapes to downtown Rockford’s Whitman Street bridge. Admission is free for spectators.

The best regatta vantage points are Martin Park, Sinnissippi Gardens and anywhere along the Rock River Recreation Trail on the east bank of the river, between Riverside Boulevard and Whitman Street. Bring picnics, chairs and blankets and grab a spot early, because it fills up fast. The 10-mile trail is paved, so you might want to add rollerblades, running shoes, bicycles or strollers.

Info for regatta rowing crews

New this year, register for the Baird Head of the Rock Regatta at www.regattacentral.com. Free sleeping space for 500 is available at the YMCA Physical Education Center; space will be allocated as entries are received.

Crews and guests may also enjoy a traditional carb-loading pasta dinner for $6 from 5 to 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 6, and a hearty breakfast for $4 from 6 to 8:30 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 7, at the Verdi Club, just a half block from race headquarters, south of the Whitman Street bridge. Tickets available at door.

For more information, contact Mel McCollom at (815) 489-1289 or mmccollom@rockfordymca.org.

from the Oct. 3, 2007, issue

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