The Head of the Tennessee Regatta began in 1975, a time when rowing was
just a fledgling sport in the Southeast. However, this year the three-mile
race and the sport are at the pinnacle of their existence.
The Knoxville Rowing Association and the Knoxville Sports Corporation are
co-sponsoring the event -- to be held this Saturday -- for the second
straight year. Also in its second year is the Lady Volunteer Crew
But there is more than just these two factors that make this event
attractive. Beginning in 1986, the race has been run on the three miles of
the Tennessee River between the UT Faculty Club and the west end of
Cherokee Park. To fans of the sport, this area is a sight for sore
"As the fog lifts in the morning with the leaves in full color on the
bluffs across the lake from the finish line, the launching of the first
races has a grace all its own. There is nothing else like it in American
Rowing," said George Hutchinson, president of the Knoxville Rowing
The event was the brainchild of Rodman Townsend, Sr. In 1974, he witnessed
the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston and felt that such a spectacle
should be held in Knoxville. A year later, he got his wish as the Head of
the Tennessee became the second "Head" race in the United States.
The first regatta was small with just a handful of participants, and all
the timing was done by wristwatch. Since then, the event has prospered
year-after-year as numerous high school squads, college programs and clubs
joined the festivities.
Now in its 21st year, the race is expected to welcome over 1,000
competitors, including the Lady Vols who are looking for as good a showing
as they had last year.
In its first-ever running of the event, Tennessee picked up one gold medal
and two second-place finishes in the 1995 Head of the Tennessee.
In the open 4+, coxswain Julie Coltrin, Angela Taylor, Amy Delashmit, Sarah
Harper and Kristi Johnson finished ahead of the pack in a time of 19:54.03.
UT-Chattanooga placed a distant second in 20:25.61.
The Lady Vols also won the silver medal in the open 8+ with a time of
18:21.75, just two seconds behind first-place UTC. The lightweight 4+ race
also witnessed the Lady Vols finish second, this time in 21:24.76.
So far this fall, UT has competed in two events and captured a combined
five division titles. On Oct. 5, the Lady Vols won the Varsity 4+ and 8+
events at the Head of the Ohio regatta in Pittsburgh. At the Chattanooga
Head Race this past Saturday, Tennessee won the Varsity 4+ and 8+, as well
as the Novice 8+.
All this success has UT head coach Sussanah Iacovino thinking big.
"On the national level, I see Tennessee becoming one of the perennial
powerhouses of women's rowing in the NCAA," she said.
They'll have a chance to prove that Saturday.