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Staff photo by Erin O. Smith / Athletes get out on the Tennessee River to compete in the Head of the Hooch rowing regatta Saturday, November 2, 2019 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Head of the Hooch, the annual rowing regatta held on the Tennessee River and the 21st Century Waterfront, will move to a virtual-only event this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to officials.

The event began as the Chattahoochee Regatta near Atlanta, but moved here after out-growing the facility there. 

It features more than 2,000 boats racing over two days. More than 9,000 seats are rowed. 1,200 boats compete on Saturday alone, more in one day than any other regatta. Participants come from more than 200 different organizations. It  has hosted teams from Canada, Germany, Sweden and Australia.

Organizers had created a coronavirus task force to "monitor the ongoing status of the pandemic and to determine the feasibility of holding the event on the water on November 7 and 8," according a news release.

The task force determined that "after carefully reviewing the local health situation and the guidelines for conducting a safe regatta set by the governing body (USRowing), the committee made the difficult decision to cancel this year's on-the-water event. Instead, the Head of the Hooch will be holding a virtual event where competitors will race via an online venue using their own indoor rowing machine in order to maintain continuity of the event and use it as a springboard into 2021.

"We are disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to converge on downtown Chattanooga for all of the festivities associated with the Hooch," said Regatta Director Mike Connors. "Chattanooga remains one of the premier rowing venues in the country and a favorite of our athletes, coaches, spectators and vendors. We look forward to returning to downtown Chattanooga in 2021."

 

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