More than 500 boats will take part in the Head of the South Rowing Regatta Saturday on the Savannah River.
A total of 53 rowing clubs from 38 cities and 13 states will converge on the river in a 5,000-meter course beginning at Hammond's Ferry and ending at the Boathouse.
There will be a total of 76 events throughout the day. It will all start with the men’s championship 1x at 8:15 a.m. and end with the men’s championships for 4x and 8+, and the women’s championship 8+, from 4:20-4:45 p.m.
In its 16th year, the regatta has seen a large increase in participation from the previous year. George Fry Jr., director of development for the Augusta Rowing Club, said the regatta is the sixth largest in the country.
“The real number is the 29 percent increase in participation,” he said.
The event features the 20th-ranked Clemson club, as well as a crew from Minnesota and New Jersey. Georgia, Georgia State, N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest are also competing.
Also competing are the Augusta Rowing Club, Augusta Junior Crew and Augusta State University Crew. The Augusta State crew is looking to take advantage of the home waters and take home a trophy.
“Last year we ranked four boats nationally in the top 20,” coach Michael Cobb said. “We’ve grown from one to three to four last year. I expect them to go out there and do their best. Our goal is to row as many times as we can and see if we can put some points together and win this thing.”
The Augusta State crew will compete in five events ranging from the men’s championship 1x at 8:15 a.m. to the men’s collegiate and club novice 8+ at 2:45 p.m. In its third year, Cobb said the crew has grown each year.
“We have, in stature, a small team,” he said. “I’m used to large athletes, and it’s amazing the work they put in and the results they get out of it. Every year we’ve increased.”
Cobb said the program has gotten bigger each year, as well. He attributed the great current on the river, noting it’s rare to have rough water on the course.
The public can attend the event for no charge. Anywhere along the river from Hammond's Ferry to the Boathouse with access is considered a good spot for viewing the rowing. The course ends along the Boathouse, and rowers can be found around the area in between events.