Rowing: Head of the River Race Free

Head of the River Race
Cheer on rowers from around the globe as they race along the Thames in one of London’s longest-running sporting traditions. Read More


Watch the crews speed along London’s famous river Thames in the annual Head of the River Race rowing event.

Every spring, 400 national and international crews of eight rowers take to the waters to compete in this historic event. Rowed over the 4.25 mile (6.8km) Thames Championship Course, the race begins at Mortlake and ends at Putney (the opposite direction to the Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Races), taking around two hours from the time the first crew sets off to the time the last crew crosses the finish line. Crews start one after the other, at 10-second intervals, with the previous year’s winner starting first. The winner is the crew which completes the race in the fastest time.

Founded by Cambridge and Tideway oarsman Steve Fairbairn, the historic race first took place in 1926 as a way for crews to practise long rows during winter. The annual event now receives entries from hundreds of crews from all over the world, from Australia to Germany. Unfortunately, the 2017 race was cancelled due to the adverse direction of the wind, but the 2018 race is expected to go ahead as normal.

Where to Watch the Head of the River Race

In 2018, the race is scheduled to start at 10.15am. Pack your picnic and Pimm's and arrive at least 45 minutes early to secure a good viewing spot, as the banks of the river Thames are usually brimming with spectators.

See the crews off from Chiswick Bridge, cheer them on from Barnes Bridge as they gather pace, or watch them approach from the Hammersmith Bridge. You can also try to find a good spot on the river banks or a seat in a cosy pub along the course. Take a look at the map of the race course.



Event: Free

Venue Details & Map

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