Secret City Head Race

  • Hosted By: Oak Ridge Rowing Association, Inc.

                         THE SECRET CITY HEAD RACE

        Clinch River, Melton Hill Lake Reservoir, Oak Ridge TN


Distance- 4702 meters (optimal line) for Down Stream Head Race on Saturday, October 17  and Up Stream Head Race on Sunday, October 18.

Check-in- 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM Friday or  6:30 AM - 8:00 AM Saturday

  • Crews are required to check in before anyone from that team is allowed to race.

  • Crews must have all USRowing waivers compliant and all entries paid for prior to racing. This will be verified at check in.

Waiver Requirements

  • Every competitor must complete an online USRowing Regatta Liability Waiver. Competitors under the age of 18 must sign and have a parent or legal guardian sign an individual minor's waiver. No Paper waivers will be accepted.

Coaches and Coxswains Meeting -7:30AM, Saturday, at the ORRA’s Boathouse

  • At least one representative from each crew must attend. All crews will be responsible for the information delivered at the meeting, regardless of attendance.

Weigh In - None for 2020. SCHR will use the Honor System regarding shell minimum weight, cowswain minimum weight, and lightweight men's and womens athletes. 



  • Entries should be made on the Regatta Central web site:

  • A preliminary schedule of events will be posted  prior to the regatta on the regatta central under lane draws. This will not be the final heat sheet and will be subject to changes. The final heat sheet will be found online

Late Entry

  • Crews missing the entry deadline will be considered a late entry.  Late Fee (per entry) $10


  • Fees for events cancelled due to acts of God are not refundable.


  • If a scratch occurs after the normal entry deadline, no refund will be given.  Events with only one entry may be scratched. Fees for such scratched events will be refunded. Payment is due on the Wednesday after entries are due to give teams more time to upload payments.  However, Teams will be charged for all entries, including any scratches that are made after the entry period is over.


  • Any competitors practicing on the course before the day of the regatta do so at their own risk. The Secret City Head Race Regatta committee does not schedule supervised practices.

Dock Master

  • The Dock Master has absolute authority over the dock area. All competitors must return to these docks after their race. The Dock Master will make the first call for each event 90 minutes prior to each events scheduled start time. Each competitor is required to report in before boarding launching dock. Competitors arriving late to the starting line for an event may be Held at start area until a safe window for start is identified. The crew will race separate from other crews in the category. Outgoing boats will have priority over incoming boats. The Dock Master will get your crew to the water as soon as possible.


  • Crews will launch from the input docks in the marina harbor. There will be no time for equipment adjustment on the docks. Crews should plan to adjust foot stretchers and tie shoelaces after launching. Crews are responsible for getting their boat to the start on time.

Safety Equipment

  • Every competing boat must be properly equipped with a bow ball. Every competing boat shall also be equipped with quick-release shoes. Control commission will check before boarding launching docks (per rule 3-109).

Boat Numbers

  • Assigned numbers for all boats will be distributed when each crew picks up a competitor's' packet at the registration table for each event or at control commission. Attachment of your boat number on the back of Coxswain and Bowman is critical for your time to be recorded correctly. Boat numbers will also be placed on the bow of each boat entered.

Hot Seating

  • Coaches must notify the dock master of their intention to hot seat. Events will not be held up to accommodate hot seating crews.  The Chief Referee and Dock Master have the final say in regards to a crew that wishes to hot seat.

Rowing to the Starting Line

  • Immediately after launching rowers will hold to the port side (coxswain’s right) of the harbor entrance to cross to the opposite (eastern) side of the river. After crossing the river, the crew will proceed upstream staying at least 10 meters away from the bank as a precaution keeping the orange buoys on the port side (coxswain’s left). Crews must pass under the right arch of the railroad bridge. PLEASE USE CAUTION! Traffic maps for both races will be set up at the Coaches and Coxswains Meeting and at the regatta site. When boats reach the starting line at Gibbs Ferry Park, they must check-in with the start Marshall.

Warm up

  • Once boats are upstream of the starting line, they may use the part of the river above the starting chute and the large orange upstream buoy to warm up. Crews should be conscious of the fact that other boat traffic on the river will not be suspended during the morning head race. Traffic may be encountered.


  • Approximately 10 minutes before the scheduled start of their event, boats should proceed to the staging area just upstream of the starting chute on the park side of the river and line up in numerical sequence of boat numbers. Officials will assist in the staging area. The start chute will consist of the shore on the starboard side and a row of buoys on the port side

Late Boats

  • Late arriving boats should not cross the line of buoys to jump into the Starting Sequence, but should await instructions from the Marshals or Starter.  Any boat that starts out of sequence against orders of the Starter will be disqualified.

Equipment Failure Prior to Start

  • If a competitor loses his/her bow marker or experiences equipment breakage prior to Start, he/she should notify Marshals as soon as possible upon entering the chute.  

The Start

  • All boats must pass through the starting chute to begin the head race. Events will be started at about 15-20 minute intervals. The spacing between each boat in an event will be about 15-20 seconds (or 3-4 boat lengths). The starting marshal will direct each boat to begin rowing in the chute. The start official may direct a crew to stop rowing in the chute if the spacing is too small. There is absolutely no passing in the chute.

The Race

  • During the race, boats should keep the large course buoys on their port side (coxswain’s left) at all times.. Hazard areas on the starboard shore will be marked with red buoys. Passing a course buoy with the buoy on the starboard side will result in a 30 second time penalty for each buoy violation. The only exception will be at the finish line, where double buoys mark the finish line gate. USRowing officials will be stationed along the course to monitor this as well as for safety.

Passing and Being Passed

  • Slower boats must give way to overtaking crews, allowing the overtaking crew the shortest course. Failure to give way may result in a time penalty of 15 seconds or disqualification. Usually, the crew being overtaken should yield to the starboard.

The Finish

  • The finish line is visually defined by the large pavilion and its blue roof, immediately upstream from the Melton Lake Park boat ramp. Two large buoys will mark the finish line. Keep rowing after you cross the finish line. Do not stop on or near the finish line! Boats should turn toward the Oak Ridge bank and proceed in toward the harbor entering on the right side of the mouth of the harbor.  


  • May be of either sex for any event. Any experience level.  No weight restrictions apply. Coxswains are not required to weigh-in.

Rules and Regulations

  • The Secret City Head Race will follow the USRowing Rules of Rowing.


  • Intent to file protest must be indicated on the water immediately following the finish of a race. The protest must be made to an Official before the crew leaves the area between the finish line and the embayment. After a crew returns to the launch docks, all right to protest is waived the regatta will consider protest from each coach or coaching representative (only one coach/coaching representative per protest is allowed) per USRA rules at a fee of $50.00. The protest must be filed with the Regatta Director and the fee paid within 60 minutes from the start of the race in question. The Regatta Jury will consider appeals from crews who have been assessed a penalty.

Event Definitions

College events are restricted to individuals age 19 as of December of the same year as the event and older. (No Youth crews will be allowed in this category)

Novice events are restricted for individuals who have less than 12 months rowing experience in any form.

Youth events are restricted to rowers that have not attained the age of 19 as of December of the same year of the event.

Women's Division: Female rowers and scullers only.

Men's Division: Male rowers and scullers only.

Masters Age restricted category that receives handicaps based on age as of December 31 of the current year. Masters Age Handicaps will be based on the 1000-meter age handicaps x5 found in the USRowing Rules of Rowing.

Mixed boats must be at least 50% women.

Awards/ Medals

  • Top three places are awarded medals provided if at least three boats rowed in their event. Medals will be awarded once results are official. Winners not claiming their medals/trophies by the end of the race day will forfeit their award.


  • If weather does become a problem,  the Regatta Director and Chief Referee will notify all participating crews on any potential changes.


  • The head race will begin upstream from the Melton Hill Marina at the Anderson County Gibbs Ferry Park on the Clinch River. The head race will end at the park pavilion just above the Melton Hill Marina (Figure 1).