Head of the River Race

Photo: Matt Byrne


(M) Head of the River Race

🚣‍♀️🚣‍♂️ The River Thames is the stage for the Head of the River Race, the largest single processional rowing race in the world.  Spectating is free.

NEWSFLASH: The 2024 Head of the River Race is a wrap!  Check out our ROWING section here for more events coming up in or around London.

CONGRATULATIONS to Leander Club A who won the Fairburn Trophy in a course record time of 16:26.7.  Oxford Brookes University A (16:31.8) finished in second place with Oxford Brookes University B (16:45.2) in third.  Thames Rowing Club A were the Club Pennant & Vernon Trophy winners in a time of 16:47.9.  Check out the Head of the River Race website for the full results.


Hundreds of men’s eights crews will take to the water in today’s Head of the River Race.  The best will include GB and international Olympians in club colours, The action gets underway at 3.15pm in the shadow of Chiswick Bridge in Mortlake.


The Head of the River Race

Photo: Head of the River Race

Founded in 1926 by Cambridge and Tideway oarsman Steve Faibairn, the Head of the River Race – known as ‘The Head‘ – began life as a target for local crews at the end of the winter training season.  21 crews took part in the inaugural race.  It takes place annually over 4¼ mile Thames Championship Course from Mortlake to Putney – i.e. the Boat Race course in reverse.  Click on the course map (left) to see the course in full.

Fast forward to the present day and over 300 crews are expected to be entered into the 2024 race.  They will form a single procession of men’s eights heading east on the River Thames.  The winning men’s crew is the fastest to cover the course on which the long-standing record of 16 minutes 37 seconds – set in 1987 by the Great Britain rowing team – was broken last year by Oxford Brookes (see below).


Full draw for the 2024 race can be viewed here once published.

Crews to watch: Oxford Brookes University ‘A’ are the defending champions.  In 2023 they won the race in a new course record time of 16:28.40.  Can they defend the Fairbairn Trophy?  A big threat will come from the Leander Club ‘A’ crew.  They finished second last year winning the Club Pennant in a time of 16:30.30, beating the existing course record.

Check out the results in full for the 2023 race here.

Head of the River Race

Photo: Matt Byrne

🚣‍♀️🚣‍♂️ Start time and finish:  The first crew will start at 3.15pm in Mortlake.

The crews set off in 10 second intervals.  The final boat is likely to start after 4pm.

From 3.30pm or shortly after the boats will start arriving at Putney Bridge with the procession continuing until around 5pm.


🎟️ Spectating is free on the route.

🧐 Best viewing spots:  Mortlake will be buzzing at the start as all the crews gather with Chiswick Bridge providing an ideal place to take in the build-up and start of the race.  En route Barnes Bridge is a favourite spot.  Here the race is still in its relatively early stages.  While at Hammersmith Bridge the strain will be telling on the crews well into the second half of the course.  The banks of the River Thames at Putney (a couple of hundred metres before the bridge) is the place to be to see the crews over the finishing line.  Many rowing clubs and pubs will be serving refreshments.


🚣‍♀️🚣‍♂️ Last but not least … 2024 Boat Race alert!!  The stage is set for Saturday 30 March, and 78th Women’s Boat Race and 169th Men’s Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge.  It takes place on the Championship Course from Putney to Chiswick.  Join some 250,000 spectators who will line the banks of the river!

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