The Legendary Head of the River Race

Event Date: March 29, 2015 at 12:00
One of London’s longest-running sporting traditions, Head of the River Race is a processional rowing race held every year on the River Thames in London. The race takes place on the 4.25 mile (6.8 km) Championship Course from Mortlake south bank of the River Thames to Putney in South-West London. 400 crews from all across the globe take to the waters of Thames to participate in the historic event. The eventwas considered as a way for crews to perform long rows during winter.

Head of the River Race

It is generally held on the third or fourth Saturday of March every year depending on the tides.

A little bit of history

The Head of the River Race was founded by the Cambridge and Tideway oarsman Steve Fairbairn. The idea was to give crews something to aspire for at the end of the winter training phase.
The race was first held in 1926 with 21 crews participating. There was no race in the year 1937 as there wasn’t a suitable tide on a Saturday and none took place from 1940-45 inclusive. The event restarted in 1946. Since then, it has taken place on an annual basis. The event had started for Tideway crews and grew steadily to attract crews from far and beyond. All these years, crews have come from places like Australia, Ireland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and the USA.
It takes approximately two hours for the race from the time that the first crew starts to the last crew finishing. The record time now is 16 minutes 37 seconds set in 1987 by the Great Britain national crew.
Only the winning crew receives Fairbairn medals. Category winners now get medals of a different design.
The race was viewed as a competitive and social occasion and obviously maintains the same status even today.

Head of the River Race - Thames


The event in today’s time witnesses hundreds of boats, each one operated by eight men, row over the championship course. The tradition is that the previous year’s winner starts first followed at 10-second break by other crews. The new entries start in alphabetical order. For Londoners and visitors coming in from all parts of the world, the event is an excellent way to celebrate the beginning of spring. The joyfulness along the beautiful river Thames is simply incomparable. Packed with viewers for the race, the joyfulness along the beautiful river Thames is simply incomparable. One can see the crews off from Chiswick Bridge, watch them from Barnes Bridge when they get together and speed up, and then see the crews come close from the lively Hammersmith Bridge.

head of river race -boats

Tip: For a better view, arrive early and grab an ideal spot!

Accommodation nearby

There is an extensive range of serviced apartments located in areas close to the iconic river Thames in London. Thoroughly designed and well planned, the apartments offer guests a memorable experience. You can check our website for more information.

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