Head of the Hooch
The Head of the Hooch Regatta, previously known as the Head of the Chattahoochee Regatta, is a 2-day rowing regatta held annually on the first full (Saturday and Sunday in the same month) weekend in November in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The head race is currently run downstream on a three mile course on the Tennessee River. It presently ranks as the second largest rowing regatta in the United States with over 10,000 rowers and nearly 2,000 boats entered for the 2012 event. 1,200 boats race on Saturday alone, more than any other US regatta on a single day.
The event is currently co-hosted by the Atlanta Rowing Club and the Lookout Rowing Club. The St. Andrews Rowing Club is also a major partner providing assistance with the set up and operation of the regatta. The Hooch organization is 100% volunteers, with no paid staff.
The Hooch has been recognized as one of most laid back and hospitable regattas in the country by Rowing News Magazine.
Competitors each year come from over 30 of the United States and several foreign countries. The athletes’ ages span from high school crews to adult masters rowers aged 70 and above. The regatta runs a comprehensive list of events with men's, women's, and mixed boats in youth (high school), novice, college and club, varsity collegiate, championship, and masters categories.
In 1981, the Atlanta Rowing Club organized a head race on the Chattahoochee River, in front of their boathouse in Roswell, Georgia. The first race hosted only 105 boats. As word spread the regatta drew increasing numbers of rowers each year to the beautiful Roswell, GA venue on the Chattahoochee River. By 1998 almost 500 boats raced in one day. The wait at the docks to launch and recover was becoming too long and trailers were stacked up in the park and on both sides of the adjacent Azalea Drive for more than a half-mile. Clearly the regatta had outgrown the site.
In November 1997, the regatta moved from Roswell, GA to the 1996 Olympic rowing venue in Gainesville, Georgia. Following the move, the number of boats raced at the Hooch grew annually by 15-20%. While the Olympic Venue was and is an exceptional racecourse, by 2004 Hooch regatta attendance was overwhelming available hotel and restaurant facilities in the nearby town of Gainesville, GA. In 2004, over 1000 boats raced and the regatta began looking for alternate venues to accommodate further growth.
At the same time, Chattanooga, Tennessee had just completed a $120 million renovation of their downtown waterfront area, designed to accommodate events with large numbers of participants and spectators. The Head of the Chattahoochee committee approached Lookout Rowing Club, local to Chattanooga, along with the City of Chattanooga, to explore the prospect of conducting the regatta there on the Tennessee River. In 2005, the "Head of the Chattahoochee Regatta" changed its name to "Head of the Hooch Regatta", and held the event for the first time in Chattanooga. The new venue was an instant success. The appeal and convenience of a regatta in the downtown area of a city like Chattanooga was undeniable. Rowers and spectators could walk from the venue to hotels and restaurants. In addition, the city offered many nearby attractions for the non-rowing members of the family.
The 2012 Hooch expects to race almost 2000 boats over two days. The Hooch currently ranks as the second largest head race (in number of boats raced) in North America, just behind the Head of the Charles in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Row for the Cure 
Every team attending the Hooch is encouraged to hold a Row for the Cure fundraiser prior to the Hooch. Each team can raise money for the Komen for the Cure affiliate serving their local community in the fight against breast cancer. Fundraising also takes place during the regatta, with special women’s races labeled as Row for the Cure events. Tens of thousands of dollars are raised each year.
- Official Head of the Hooch Website
- Video describing the Head of the Hooch
- Head of the Hooch's Facebook Page
- Head of the Hooch's Twitter Account
- Head of the Hooch Photos on their Flickr Page