Head of the Des Moines

  • Hosted By: Des Moines Rowing Club
Head of the Des Moines

I.  General Procedures

II. Local Racing Rules


I.  General Procedures


The race is rowed upstream and is a buoyed course. The start is located near the Des Moines Botanical Center. The finish is a point approximately 500 meters upstream from the Prospect Park launch area.  The course is approximately 3 miles in length. The 25-minute row to the start serves as a warm-up. 


The coaches and coxswains meeting is scheduled for 7:00 am at Prospect Park at the announcers position near the launch docks.


Races begin at 8:30 am. The final event should be completed before 5:15 pm. Breaks and lunch are built into the schedule and will be used to get back on schedule as needed. A schedule of events is enclosed. Please do not schedule the same equipment/people in races less than 90 minutes apart. This ensures that boats/crews have enough time to make the 25-minute row to the start comfortably. Boats will not be allowed to row outside their scheduled times, unless directed to do so by officials.
Should you wish to add a boat to a race, you must do so no less than 90 minutes prior to the scheduled starting time. If you wish to drop a boat from a race, notify registration and the dock master at least 45 minutes before the start of the race.


Bow markers are assigned and included in your registration packet. Please return them to the registration table after each race.


The following definitions are used at this regatta:
  Novice:        Persons who have not competed in a USRA-sanctioned event prior to 10/01/2008.
   Junior:        Maximum age is 18 as of 12/31/2009 and currently in high school.
          Collegiate:        Currently enrolled as a full-time student in a college or university.

     Club:         Crews with rowers of varying ages who are not affiliated with a college                                                               or university who do not fit the master or junior categories                  

(e.g., a father-son double, a womens 8 of varying ages)

 Master:        Minimum age is 21 as of 12/31/2009. Minimum average age of crew is 27 as of 12/31/2009.
   Grand Master:        Age 50 or greater as of 12/31/2009.

      Mixed Crew:        Must have an equal number of each gender rowing in the boat.



Handicaps are based on the standard set by Regatta Central. Handicap is figured on average age of the crew not counting the coxswain. Rowers competing as masters who fail to provide ages for each rower in the boat will not be given any handicap.


All members of a crew shall wear shirts of a uniform design and color to help officials in identifying crews. Failure to wear team colors may result in inaccurately recorded racing times.


Composite crews (rowers from more than one crew in a boat) must register as such and must wear their own team?s uniform. Composite crews are not eligible for team points.


Any protests must be made in writing at the registration tent within 60 minutes of the race?s finish. A $25 protest fee must accompany a completed protest letter and will be returned if your protest is upheld. Protests will be forwarded to the head referee for consideration.

II.  Local Racing Rules


We will be calling races to launch, but it is the rowers responsibility to launch on time. Have boats ready to launch (with correct bow markers) at least 40 minutes prior to the official race start time. Rowers spending undue time on the docks may be assessed a 10-second penalty for each warning. Plan on taking at least 25 minutes to row downstream. As a general rule, departing boats will have priority on dock space over arriving boats.

If your boat requires hot seating for a crew right after your race, check with the dockmaster prior to leaving the dock for your race. If she/he approves, she/he will give you a bright green card. When you have finished your race, hold up the card up for the finish-line official. The finish official and dockmaster will make every effort to give you priority docking, but safety and fairness are their primary responsibilities. Move quickly and make sure the hot-seating crew is ready on the dock to take your boat.

* Yellow buoys mark the division between the warm-up and racing lanes. All boats must keep the yellow buoys to port side at all times, whether warming up or racing. Oars may cross the yellow buoy line, but the hull may not cross. Anytime a hull violates the yellow buoy line, a 10-second penalty will be assessed.
* Orange buoys mark shallow areas and submerged hazards. They are self enforcing. We make every effort to mark all hazards, but the river changes constantly. Crowd the orange buoys at your own risk.
* Use the bridge spans designated for warming up and racing: one span for warm up, one or two spans for racing. These are marked with suspended red and green markers (green means use this lane; red means don?t use this span).
* At the start, do not go downstream from the I-235 bridge. There is a dam there.
* After crossing the finish line, continue rowing another 100 meters in order to make a safe return to the docks.

Be sure you have firmly attached your correct bow marker. (They are pre-assigned and are included in your club race packet from the registration tent). Be at the start at least 5 minutes before the official start time of your race. (Allow about 25 minutes to row to the start from Prospect Park.) This is a flying start, in single file. Line up in order of your bow marker numbers, from lowest to highest. (A 10-second penalty may be assessed for boats missing their place in the starting order, interfering with crews approaching the start, or going below the I-235 bridge. Boats may be assessed a 60-second penalty for having an incorrect bow marker or no bow marker.) As directed by the starter or marshall, cross the starting line at race pace about 10 to 20 seconds behind the preceding boat.

See the Traffic Pattern guidelines above for course boundaries and penalties.
Boats racing have the right of way over all other boats. Any non-racing boat that interferes with a race will be subject to a 30-second penalty or possible exclusion from its race.
An overtaking boat is considered to be overtaking when it moves to within a boat length of the boat it?s approaching. When passing another boat, the overtaking boat has the right of way, but is obliged to make it apparent to the boat ahead on which side it wishes to pass. The boat being overtaken must yield room to the overtaking boat, usually on the outside of a corner. If, in the opinion of the officials, insufficient room is given, a 30-second penalty may be assessed. However, no overtaking boat should press its right of way to the point of collision. Racing boats interfering with other racing boats will be subject to a 30-second penalty or possible exclusion from the race. If one or more rowers is ejected from a boat during a race, the affected crew must stop and remain with those individuals until all are safely out of the water or official safety help arrives. Respect for the safety of other competitors and equipment must be shown at all times. If, in the opinion of the officials, a crew is behaving in a dangerous or reckless manner, that crew may be excluded from its race.

All participants, coaches, and spectators are expected to exhibit good sportsmanship. Disrespectful language or behavior may be subject to disqualification from the regatta.  

    *    Cell phones and other electronic external communication devices are not allowed in racing shells.
    *    The Regatta Committee reserves the right to rule on any situations not specifically covered in these rules and assess penalties as  appropriate.