Race Course


The docks and course will be closed after morning practices on Friday, September 30, unless prior approval has been granted.


The 2.6 mile course is on the Allegheny River. The start line is marked mooring cell on the right descending bank of Washington’s Landing. Starting marshals located before the start line will assist as crews order themselves by bow number prior to the start in the customary fashion of a head race. Orange buoys are used to mark the start chute.

After passing through the start shoot, boats will row past a marina to the end of the island. Buoys will separate the marina from the race course on the starboard side. Boats should pass through both the railroad bridge and 31st Street bridge with the bridge abutment on the port side. At the bottom of the island continue to keep the buoys on the starboard side, returning boat traffic will be traveling along the north shore at this point before entering the island back channel. (See maps at the end of this page)

The race course is marked with buoys approximately every 250 meters or less on the left and right descending banks.  United States Coast Guard Channel Markers (large metal green, red, or yellow buoys) are not considered official HOTO course buoys.

Approaching the 16th Street or McCullough bridge the boats will once again keep between the buoys on the starboard side and bridge abutment on the port side.

All competitors are responsible for being familiar with the course. Please consult the course map.


Competitors and coxswains must review the course maps at the end of the page carefully to locate shallow areas and bad water.  The river is closed to all recreational and commercial traffic in accordance with the regulations of the US Coast Guard. The river may be re-opened every four hours to allow for passage of river traffic, if any. Be advised that commercial traffic, barges in particular, are likely to cause considerable wakes and that the water may remain unsettled for a long period of time after a barge passes. These will happen during breaks in the regatta.

The Head of the Ohio, in cooperation with the US Coast Guard, may pass recreational boats during the Regatta. This is only done with an escort at a NO WAKE speed.

There are at least 12 marshal/official launches spread out throughout the race course. These marshals/officials have communications with the chief referee through Race Control. They are in place in order to help to maintain the safety and fairness of the regatta.  Please follow their directions.


When launching from the docks competitors have the row to the start as their warm-up. Follow the instructions of the three marshals in the starting area.


Each entrant must be in the starting/marshalling area ten (10) minutes prior to their scheduled starting time. The dockmaster will make the several calls for launching crews.

The start will be in sequence of bow markers. Boats must pass through the starting chute at the starting area to be official.

Boats arriving more than thirty (30) seconds after the last entrant has started will, at the discretion of the starter, be allowed to row at the end of the race. Such boats may be timed, but not ranked.


While racing, boats must stay on the designated buoyed racecourse with buoys located on the right descending bank to the port side. Oar blades may go over buoys but the hull of the shell must stay on the course.

Any shell being overtaken must grant the right-of-way and move or be penalized. A shell being approached from behind must give way to the approaching boat by moving towards their port side and allowing the other boat passage on their starboard side.  This must occur by the time the approaching boat is within one boat length of open water. Boats overtaking others must not force boats being overtaken any farther out of the way than is necessary to complete an unimpeded pass. No boat should press its right of way to the point of collision.


The finish is clearly marked by two large yellow buoys. Once beyond the buoys, crews must continue through the Ft Duquesne in the large center arch. Boats will turn before the point. Follow any instructions by the marshals. Boats will travel along the north shore to the port side of the race course keeping the buoys on the starboard side and watching to clear bridge abutments. Maps at the end of the page show the return path back to the island channel and back to the docks.


If water conditions deteriorate during race day, the officials may determine it necessary to shorten the race course by about a half mile.  If this occurs, the finish line will be moved upstream.  If this occurs announcements will be made multiple times at both docks as well as over the public address system.  There will be a 30-minute delay in the race schedule to accommodate moving the start line.

Race Course Section One:

HOTO Race Course Section One

Race Course Section Two:

HOTO Race Course Section Two

Race Course Section Three:

HOTO Race Course Section Three