Back to All Events

2019 - Head of the Rock

  • Head of the Rock Regatta 200 Y Blvd Rockford, IL 61107 United States (map)

Please take note, particularly for this regatta, there are a few extra details to keep in mind:

  • There is a lot of walking that you will have to do. Last year I reached 10,000 steps before we even started racing.

    • The parking lot is far away. Bring a wagon!

    • The trailer will be parked a considerable distance from where we usually stage our boats. Remember, we will carry all of our boats, oars, slings and blocks from the trailer to the staging area...and then back at the end of the day.

      • Wear comfortable shoes! I can’t stress that enough!!!

  • Consider bringing water shoes to wear once the racing begins. The dock is a floating dock so it is fairly bouncy and your feet will likely get wet as you are walking to bring the boat to the water or to assist with shoes and oars.

  • The water tends to become choppy as the day goes on so expect to get wet while racing. This is not a regatta that you will want to skip bringing dry clothes and socks.

  • This will be a long day, but the location is beautiful and the races are amazing to watch so it’s worth the little extra hassle!

Regatta Details

“The Head of the Rock Regatta is a rowing race of 5,000 meters (3.2 miles) on the Rock River, beginning at Martin Park and finishing at the YMCA. It is a sanctioned event of the United States Rowing Association, requiring the observance of USRowing race protocol. The Head of the Rock has expanded over the past 29 years into one of the Midwest’s premier rowing events with clubs also competing from as far away as Alaska and Colorado. There are now 65 teams with 1,700 participants. The Rowing Club of the YMCA produces this annual event. 17 Collegiate teams are represented and 16 USRowing licensed referees maintain safety and fairness of the race. The event attracts over 5,000 spectators each year.

The Rockford Regatta began in 1985 as a challenge match between the University of Wisconsin and Northwestern University. The original match was conceived by local Rockford rowers, Rob Espeseth (a U.S. Olympian) and Dennis Kaderabek. The very next year 275 athletes and 14 clubs competed in the 1st Annual Head of the Rock Regatta. The Head of the Rock has grown over the past 28 years into one of the Midwest’s premier rowing events. It is a sanctioned event of the United States Rowing Association and is listed in the USRowing Rules of Rowing as a Nationally Recognized Regatta.

The Rockford Regatta is a head race of 5,000 meters (3.2 miles) from Martin Park start line to the YMCA finish line. Head races start in single file in short intervals and race against the clock but often provide head-to-head competition at the finish line.

This event is hosted by the Rockford Rowing Crew with support from the YMCA.”


The Rock River and Rockford YMCA Rowing Crew Location:

  • Head of the Rock takes place on the Rock River

  • Racing will be held on the Rock River starting at Martin Park and racing back to the downtown YMCA

  • The formal address is 200 Y Blvd, Rockford, IL 61107

Parking for Spectators:

  • There is parking available just north of Y Blvd at the entrance to Nicholas Conservatory. If you are traveling south on N. 2nd St (U.S. 251) watch for the “Regatta Parking” sign at the corner of Ethel and N. 2nd. This parking lot is a short walk - along the river - to the regatta grounds.

  • The hosts describe the parking as being a “short walk” but truthfully it is a fairly long walk, especially if you aren’t one of the first to arrive. Wear comfortable shoes and plan to give yourself ample time to make the trek.

  • If you’ve got a wagon do yourself a favor and bring it because it’s not really a short walk and if you’re carrying stuff then it’s a miserable walk.

Pre-Regatta Preparation

  • Make sure to rsvp for the event “Head of the Rock” on TeamSnap (via All Members) so that you will receive the messages that are sent out during the live event. If you don't rsvp you won't get the updates and messages! (Even if you are not competing, but are coming to watch, rsvp so that you can stay in the loop.)

  • When you rsvp, please be sure to select some items from the “Assignment” list for the team to use and consume during the regatta.

You must be at your normal practice time to de-rig boats and load the trailer; extra hands are always welcome.

Earlier Event: September 28
2019 - Tough Cup Regatta