Recreation & Destinations

Annual Rock Regatta Sails Into Town This Weekend


Annual Rock Regatta Sails Into Town This Weekend

From the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau:

ROCKFORD, Ill. – Ya Gotta Regatta! In London, they do it on the Thames. In Boston, they do it on the Charles. In Rockford, they do it on the Rock. It’s the Olympic sport of rowing.

It’s a milestone year for the Annual BAIRD Head of the Rock Regatta. This sanctioned U.S. Rowing event, brought to you by the YMCA of the Rock River Valley’s Rowing Club, celebrates its 25th year! On Sunday, Oct. 10, more than 1,700 rowers from throughout the U.S. – many of whom weren’t even born when the first Rockford Regatta took place – will gather in Rockford and glide through the waters of the mighty Rock River.

Participants come from over 60 rowing clubs, high schools and universities. Competition begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 4:00 p.m. Many of the Big Ten Conference Teams will take part this year, as well as other Division 1, 2 and 3 schools. For a list of participating teams go to, view the calendar and click on Head of the Rock.

Hundreds of sculls skimming along the Rock River powered by the synchronized muscle-action of precision rowing teams, it’s poetry in motion and a strenuous sport. Rowers range from teens to seniors, and from novices to masters. There are men’s, women’s and mixed teams.

Spectators won’t be left out as announcers give details on who’s rowing, which team is in front and what it takes to scull. Food, Clothing & music vendors, as well as alumni gatherings will be spread throughout the grounds of the race site. Come and cheer on your Alma Mater. All money raised supports the Strong Kids Program and the Rockford Rowing Club.

Saturday, Oct. 9 is an unstructured practice day, but there is a lot to see and do. Most teams arrive by early afternoon and enjoy practicing on the Rock River. The official races are Sunday, Oct. 10 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., starting at Martin Park near the Riverside Boulevard Bridge. The course traverses a 2.75-mile stretch down the river and ends at the YMCA Log Lodge. Admission is free for spectators.

Martin Park, The Symbol, Sinnissippi Gardens, and anywhere along the east bank of the river, between Riverside Boulevard and Whitman Street are great viewing spots. Bring picnics, chairs and blankets and get a spot early to enjoy a relaxing event.

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