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Head of the Schuylkill Regatta

Head of the Schuylkill Regatta
The Head of the Schuylkill Regatta logo
Date Last Weekend of October
Location Philadelphia
Event type Head Race
Distance Script error: No such module "convert".
Primary sponsor NSM Insurance Group
Established 1874[1]
Official site
Participants 1,614 entries; 230 clubs[2]

The Thomas Eakins Head of the Schuylkill Regatta (also known as the HOSR or the HOS) is a rowing race held annually during the last weekend in October on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[3] The HOSR is the final race in the Fall Fury series, which includes the Head of the Ohio and the Head of the Connecticut.[4] Along with the Head of the Charles and the Head of the Connecticut, the HOSR is considered one of the three “fall classics.”[5] The HOSR is one of the marquee races in the Philadelphia Classic Regatta Series, which also includes the Stotesbury Cup Regatta, the Philadelphia Scholastic Rowing Championship, the Schuylkill Navy Regatta, and the Independence Day Regatta.[6]

Regattas such as the Head of the Charles in Boston and the Head of the Schuylkill in Philadelphia are to the rowing world what the New York Marathon and the Boston Marathon are to running.

— Susan Saint Sing, The Eight: A Season in the Tradition of Harvard Crew[7]


The HOSR was first held in 1874.[1] The regatta, as it exists now, was founded in 1971 by members of the University Barge Club, Joseph N. “J” Pattison IV and Olympic Rower, Lyman S.A. Perry.[8][9]

Until recently, the event was the largest one-day rowing competition in the world. The HOSR became a two-day event in 2008.[10] It is the largest regatta in Philadelphia.[11] As of 2003, the HOSR was America's second largest regatta.[12]

Format and course

The HOSR is a head race, which is a time-trial competition where boats race in close succession from a rolling start. The rower or crew completing the course in the shortest time in their age, ability and boat-class category is deemed the winner.

The course stretches Script error: No such module "convert". from the start to the finish at Boathouse Row and contains four bridges in total, which appear in this order from the start:

The Columbia Railroad Bridge, is the most difficult part of the course because coxswains must make a sharp turn of nearly ninety degrees.[13]

Coming under the Columbia bridge is like the Weeks [Memorial Bridge] turn at the Charles. You want to be already turning before you get out of the bridge.

NYAC coxswain Leigh Heyman, Rowing News[4]

There is a dangerous waterfall less than 300 meters from the finish line across from Boathouse Row.[14] The 13-foot Fairmount Water Works Dam stretches 400 meters across the Schuylkill.[14]

The dam is difficult for coxswains to see because it is so wide.[14] A rowing shell caught broadside beyond the safety cable would easily be swept over the falls.[14]


The regatta draws competitors from across the United States and internationally. Competing teams regularly hail from countries including:

Australia[15] Canada[15] France[15] Germany[16]
Great Britain[15] Greece[15] Guatemala[15] Hong Kong[17]
Ireland[18] Mexico[16] Peru[16] Russia[16]

The HOSR is a fall championship regatta for many regional schools.[19] The regatta sets itself apart with an expanded schedule of small boats and a field of quads "deep enough to do justice to Philadelphia’s rich sculling heritage."[19] The Head of the Schuylkill is a self-descried "inclusive regatta."[20] However, it also attracts top world-class athletes. Recent competitors include:

Points Trophies

Since 2010, the HOSR has awarded points trophies in high school, college, open and masters categories for overall all team points and by gender.[23] Only six programs have won the overall points trophy:[24]





High School

  • Saugatuck Rowing Association (2012-2013)
  • Connecticut Boat Club (2010-2011)

By gender

Year College Women College Men Masters Women Masters Men Open Women Open Men High School Women High school Men Ref.
2010 Holy Cross/Trinity Drexel Vesper Malta Penn AC Penn AC Connecticut St. Joe's Prep [26]
2011 Drexel/Villanova Drexel/Princeton Vesper Potomac/Malta Vesper Penn AC Connecticut St. Joe's Prep/Crescent [26]
2012 Michigan State Princeton Vesper Fairmount/Malta Vesper Malta/Potomac/Vesper Saugatuck Crescent [26]
2013 Old Dominion/Drexel Drexel Vesper University Vesper Penn AC/Undine Sagamore Norwalk River [27]
2014 Bucknell Drexel -- -- Vesper Potomac -- --

Philadelphia Gold Cup Challenge

File:Gold Cup Winners.jpg
2014 Winners Kjetil Borch and Kim Crow being presented with the Gold Cup by Sir Steven Redgrave

The Philadelphia Challenge Cup, known as “The Gold Cup,” began during the heyday of Philadelphia rowing and pitted the best amateur male single scullers in the world against each other in a sprint race on the famed Schuylkill River.[28] In 1920, J. Elliot Newlin, the Commodore of the Schuylkill Navy and head of the Philadelphia Challenge Cup Committee, presented the Gold Cup to its first winner, John B. Kelly, Sr. from Vesper Boat Club.[29]

The Gold Cup was originally created by a popular subscription of more than $2,500, and was to be to rowing what the Davis Cup is to tennis.[29] Its founding followed Mr. Kelly's winning the 1920 Olympics single sculls and the Henley Royal Regatta barring him from competing in the Diamond Challenge Sculls on the grounds he had been a brick layer, which meant he "wasn't a gentleman" and was therefore ineligible to compete as an amateur.[29]

Year Winner Country Ref.
1920 John B. Kelly, Sr. United States (Vesper) [30]
1922 Walter M. Hoover United States (Duluth Boat Club) [30]
1923 W.E. Garrett Gilmore United States (Bachelors) [30]
1924 Paul V. Costello United States (Vesper) [30]
1924 Jack Beresford England [30]
1925 Jack Beresford England [30]
1928 H.R. Pearce Australia [30]
1935 Charles A. Campbell Canada (Argonaut Rowing Club) [30]
1936 Gustav Schaefer Germany [30]
1940 Joseph W. Burk United States (Penn AC) [30]
1948 Mervyn Wood Australia [30]
1950 Mervyn Wood Australia [30]
1952 Jurij Tjukalov Soviet Union [30]
1956 Vyacheslav Ivanov Soviet Union [30]
1958 Vyacheslav Ivanov Soviet Union [30]
1960 Vyacheslav Ivanov Soviet Union [30]
1962 Vyacheslav Ivanov Soviet Union [30]
1964 Vyacheslav Ivanov Soviet Union [30]
1966 Don Spero United States (NYAC) [30]

The Gold Cup mysteriously disappeared, ending the competition in the 1960s, only to reemerge in 2011 after a 50-year hiatus, with the expansion of the competition to women.[28][30] The race is held on a 750-meter course at the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta.[30]

Year Men's Winner Country Women's Winner Country Ref.
2011 Iztok Čop Slovenia Mirka Knapkova Czech Republic [30]
2014 Kjetil Borch Norway Kim Crow Australia [30]


  1. ^ a b Ferris, William R. (2004). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Regional Cultures: The Mid-Atlantic Region. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 391. ISBN 9780313332661. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "Head of the Schuylkill Regatta". Regatta Central. Oct 27, 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "Head of the Schuylkill Regatta History and Growth". Head of the Schuylkill Regatta. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Van Allen, Peter (January 2006). "36th Annual Thomas Eakins Head of the Schuylkill". Rowing News 12 (11): 51. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "Schulten and Müller Complete Fall Domination". Independent Rowing News 1 (2): 8. November 6, 1994. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  6. ^ O'Brien, Rick (July 8, 2010). "Philadelphia regatta series is established". Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA: Retrieved November 7, 2013. 
  7. ^ Saint Sing, Susan (2010). The Eight: A Season in the Tradition of Harvard Crew. New York, N.Y.: St. Martin's Press. p. 24. ISBN 9780312539238. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  8. ^ Ujifusa, Steven B. "The Founding of the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta" (PDF). Graphica. p. 8. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  9. ^ "Lyman Perry". SR/Olympic Sports. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  10. ^ Van Allen, Peter. "History of the Thomas Eakins Head of the Schuylkill Regatta" (PDF). Graphica. p. 9. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  11. ^ Herzig, Allison. "Penn Glee Club to open Philadelphia's largest regatta". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  12. ^ Blackwall, Christopher (December 21, 2003). "Watch Our Back". Rowing News 10 (18): 12. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  13. ^ "Course Map" (PDF). Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c d "Letter to the Editor". Rowing News 2 (22): 4. November 1995. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f "Head of the Schuylkill Regatta". Regatta Central. Oct 27, 2013. Retrieved 7 November 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c d "Head of the Schuylkill Regatta". Regatta Central. Oct 25, 2003. Retrieved 7 November 2013. 
  17. ^ "Head of the Schuylkill Regatta". Regatta Central. Oct 28, 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2013. 
  18. ^ "Head of the Schuylkill Regatta". Regatta Central. Oct 26, 2002. Retrieved 7 November 2013. 
  19. ^ a b Winchester, Ed (November 8, 2001). "No Rest in Philly: Philadelphia’s Head of the Schuylkill provides another fall racing opportunity". The Independent Rowing News (Chip Davis) 8 (18): 12. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  20. ^ "Sponsorship Opportunities". Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  21. ^ a b McManus, Tim (October 25, 2013). "Veteran pair tackles Head of the Schuylkill Regatta". Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA: Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  22. ^ Narducci, Marc (October 27, 2012). "Olympic gold medalist Esther Lofgren in Head of the Schuylkill Regatta". Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA: Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  23. ^ "41st Annual Head of the Schuylkill Regatta This Weekend Draws Over 5,800 Competitive Rowers". October 25, 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  24. ^ "Results". Head of the Schuylkill Regatta. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  25. ^ "Crew Wins Head of the Schuylkill's Overall Points Title for Fourth Straight Year". Drexel University. October 26, 2013. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  26. ^ a b c "2013 Schedules and Results". Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  27. ^ "2013 Head of the Schuylkill Regatta" (PDF). Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  28. ^ a b "Top International Rowers Compete For Historic Gold Cup Trophy". September 9, 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  29. ^ a b c Burt, Nathaniel (1999). "The Schuylkill Navy". The Perennial Philadelphians: the anatomy of an American aristocracy. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 298–99. ISBN 978-0-8122-1693-6. 
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w "The Philadelphia Challenge Cup, from 1920 to 2014". Retrieved 30 October 2014. 

External links