Approximately 1,200 to 1,500 competitors and 300 boats are expected for today's inaugural Head of the South Regatta on the Savannah River.
The races begin just above Goodale Landing and conclude at the Jessye Norman Amphitheatre. The race schedule runs from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
This is the first year the Augusta Rowing Club has tried to bookend its rowing schedule. The spring invitational meet, held since 1984, has been a big success, particularly among colleges. That event uses a sprint format where boats go head to head over 2,000 meters.
Today's head race will be over a three-mile course and boats compete against each other and the clock. Boats line up according to numbers on the bow and start at 15-second intervals. Competitors from youth to masters divisions and colleges are expected to compete.
U.S. Rowing has designated the Head of the South race as the Southeast Regional Fall Championship, with medals awarded to the top teams in each event, from youth to veteran for men and women.
`Our goal in the next three years is to have the second largest head race in the United States," said Rick Toole, the event chairman. "We're hoping that we can get to the point where we have about 6,000 participants in this event."
"For them to announce that this is a championship event in its first year is quite a credit to this race," Patterson said.