Over 450 competitors compromising 159 crews will descend on the Merrimack River tomorrow, beginning at 8:30 a.m. and going until about 2 p.m., to compete in the 4th Annual “Head of the Merrimack Regatta,” hosted by Essex Rowing Club, Inc. of Methuen.
Teams from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Connecticut, and Maryland will be on hand with entries across 40 events ranging from single person shells to the eight plus coxswain. Among the teams competing will be Norwalk River Rowing Association (Norwalk, CT), Baltimore Rowing Club (Baltimore, Md.), Great Bay Rowing (Portsmouth, Me.) and host Essex Rowing (Methuen), among others.
The Head of the Merrimack is a 3.8 mile race run downriver along the Methuen shore starting just up river of the power lines near the Dracut town line, past Waterside Tap and Grill and finishing at Riverside Park.
In a “head-style” race, competitors will use a time trial format, starting in single file with a short, 15-to-30 second stagger between crews. Faster and slower crews will often pass or be passed along the course with slower crews obligated to yield when necessary. At the conclusion of racing, times are compared for each crew and ranked to determine finish order.
This year’s event is part of the Trails and Sails event organized by the Essex National Heritage Commission which explores Essex County’s cultural, historic, and natural sites during two weekends of 150 or so free events.
For prime viewing, spectators can join rowers and parents at Waterside Tap and Grill on Rt. 110 or Riverside Park in Methuen.
(For community members that want to get in a boat themselves, Essex Rowing is a not-for-profit community organization serving Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire and offers numerous introductory, recreational and competitive programs for ages 11 to 70+. Interested individuals are encouraged to visit the club’s website at www.essexrowing.org for more details on how to become involved.)
Busy schedule for regatta competitors Over the next month the club's competitive teams will travel to Lowell for the Textile River Regatta, followed by the largest head race in the world, Boston's own Head of the Charles, and then to Saratoga Springs New York for the Head of the Fish at the end of October. Closing the season on Nov. 9 will be a second Essex hosted event open to the community, the Merrimack Chase.