This page provides information about General Entry Rules, Awards, Protests, Registration, Regatta Cancellation, Hot Docking, Penalties, Equipment, Trailer Parking, Boat Rigging, Parking, Tents, and Park Rules.

TENT SITE RESERVATION: If your team is interested in reserving a meeting site at HOTO, please contact ASAP; these requests are managed on a first-come, first-served basis and they go fast. OBC has only 24 sites available.”

For 2017:

OBC’s 33rd annual HOTO 2017 is Saturday, November 4 and Sunday, November 5.

Registration will begin in late July and will end at 23:59:59 on October 15, 2017.

See Section K , “Updates” below for more important information.

No extensions or late registrations will be accepted.

A. General Entry Rules

1.  Collegiate: Open to students of a 4-year university or college.

2. Champion: Open to all.

3.  Alumni: All competitors must have been graduated from or attended the university or college they are representing.

4.  Club: Open to all crews, except that colleges interested in participating in Sunday club events must first compete in the corresponding collegiate event on Saturday.

5.  Lightweights: Open to male rowers not over 165 pounds and female rowers not over 135 pounds. On boats with multiple rowers, each rower must meet the weight requirement since there will be no averaging of weights. Weigh-in is held at the Upper Boathouse on the day of the event. It begins when registration opens and must be completed by the close of registration. Check the regatta schedule for the exact times.

6.  Masters: Each competitor must be at least 22 years of age AND the average age of each boat MUST be over 30. Age is calculated using the US Rowing rules. Coxswains are excluded from age restrictions and calculations. Events are based on ten-year increments (30+, 40+, 50+, 60+, 70+, 80+) and may be adjusted according to the number of entries. Age categories 50+ and above will be handicapped. If an event is undersubscribed, it will be held with the closest age group BUT will receive separate medals for that age group.

7.  Junior or Youth Events: Each competitor must be less than 19 years of age at the end of the year in which the regatta is being held. No college students may participate. Sunday Events: 18a, 18b, 21a, and 21b “Club” events: No junior boats permitted for this event.

8.  Upper and Lower Boats: Lower boat events for juniors and collegiate rowers may be held depending upon the number of entries. No upper boat rower may participate in the lower boat event. To enter a lower boat event, the team must row at least two entries in the upper event. A club or school’s fastest boats must be entered in the upper boat event.

9. Novice: USRowing recommended definition of a novice athlete: a novice rower “shall be a coxswain or rower whose initial competition within the same discipline [(sculling or sweep)] has been in the previous 12 months of the date of the regatta”.

Novice athletes are students who have never competed in a regatta before the current season. Novice boats are comprised solely of novice athletes. Former coxswains who row for the first time are considered novice rowers. However, a former rower who then becomes a coxswain is not considered to be a novice coxswain.

B. Awards

Awards are based on the number of boats that start the race, not the number of entries.


  • 1-3 racers — 1st place only
  • 1-6 racers — 1st and 2nd place
  • 1-10 racers — 1st, 2nd, and 3rd
  • 1-14 racers — 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th
  • 15+ racers — 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th

Note that age-based medals may be awarded for those age groups that have been combined with other age groups in the event (see Masters rules). For example, in the Masters 50+ 4x, there will be a 1st place medal awarded for the fastest 50-59 year old boat, a 1st place medal awarded for the fastest 60-69 year old boat, etc. If that event has enough racers to have multiple medals as mentioned above, those medals will be awarded based on the event as a whole (50+). Rowers’ ages must be entered accurately when entries are submitted to be eligible to medal in the breakdown categories.

C. Protests

1. Making a Protest:  A protest involving the conduct of a race, unless circumstances beyond the competitors’ control prevent it, must be lodged at the end of the race at regatta headquarters within 30 minutes of submission of the results.

2.  Lodging a Protest with the Chief Referee:  If the on-the-water ruling is to be appealed, the appeal must be lodged with the Chief Referee in the form of a written statement within 30 minutes of reaching land.

3.  Decision of the Chief Referee:  The decision of the chief referee shall be final.

D. Registration

1.  Entry Deadline: See Registration website for exact date and time of the deadline for entries.

Please note that registration may close early if Park Authority maximums are reached.

No late entries will be accepted.

2.  Waivers:  Every competitor must have executed an official US Rowing Release and Waiver of Liability, Assumption of Risk and Indemnity Agreement (the “Waiver”) in order to row in the Head of the Occoquan. The Waiver is available at

3. Registration Material On-Site:  All registration materials, maps and schedules are available at the top of the hill in Boathouse #3. Please see schedule for registration hours.

4. Fees: See Registration website.

5.  Scratches: Report scratches to the Registrar at least 2 hours before the event. Do not wait until the start of the event to report scratches.

6. Refunds:  There will be no refunds from the Occoquan Boat Club after the cancellation date.

7. If you have questions regarding registration direct them

E. Regatta Cancellation

The HOTO organizers will make every effort to hold all races as closely as possible to the published schedule and still allow for safety and fairness for all involved. However, we regret that, in the event the regatta has to be cancelled there will be no refunds and no credits toward future HOTO Regattas.

F. On the Water

1. Event Schedule:  Unless otherwise officially informed by the Chief Referee or Regatta Control, all competitors should assume that the regatta is running on time and in accordance with the pre-published schedule of events.

2. Hot Docking:  It will be responsibility of the crew launching late or borrowing a boat to inform the dock master in the event hot docking is to be attempted. It is up to the discretion of the dock master whether to allow hot docking, which will not be allowed to the detriment of the other crews launching or returning from their race.

G. Penalties

1. Starting Penalty: Entries that (1) miss the final call for their event, (2) arrive less than five minutes before event start, or (3) start out of order may be assessed a 30-second penalty. Late-arriving crews will be allowed to race only if deemed appropriate by the start team.

2. Race Course Penalties:  Competitors may be assessed up to a 30 second penalty for each buoy missed or struck, depending on severity of violation and at the discretion of the referee.

3. Unsportsmanlike Behavior: Crews, coaches, or spectators exhibiting unacceptable behavior may be excluded at any time from the event at the discretion of the race director.

4. Passing:

When a passing crew (the Passer) closes to within one boat length of open water on the boat being overtaken, it is the responsibility of the slower crew to yield the line chosen by the Passer in a timely manner. The yield should be completed by the time the Passer has closed to within one boat length. A crew failing to yield will incur the following interference penalties:

  • 1st infraction: 60-second penalty
  • 2nd infraction: removal from the regatta results

5. Safety When Passing:  A passing crew has the right to pass on the side of its choice if and when a safe pass can be accomplished. The Passer must allow sufficient room for both its boat and the boat being overtaken to stay safely within the racecourse. If a pass is attempted, the Passer shall not press the right to overtake to the point of severe collision. If the Passer causes a severe collision, that crew may also be assessed a 60 second penalty.

H. Equipment

1. Competitor Number:  Every boat must display the bow marker assigned to it at on-site registration. The marker must be fixed to the bow so that the entire marker is clearly visible on both sides. The bow-most occupant of every boat, and all stern-seated coxswains, must also display the exact matching back marker, pre-affixed to the layer of apparel in which they intend to race. Without proper competitor numbers the race organizers cannot guarantee an accurate time.

2. Bow Balls:  All boats with a sharply pointed bow must also be equipped with a fixed protective bow ball. Essentially this means all “racing shells.”

3. Shoes:  If a boat is fitted with shoes, it must have, in working order, a device on each shoe that facilitates the quick release of the athlete’s foot in an emergency.

I. Arriving at the Park

1. Trailer Parking: Each trailer must complete an online trailer application. Once the maximum trailer limit is reached (in order of received applications), no more trailers will be admitted to the park. Questions – please email

2. Boat Rigging: Sandy Run Regional Park has limited boat-rigging areas and as such strictly notes areas that are acceptable to rig shells. Please assist the park staff in ensuring your shell is not in the way of vehicles, pedestrian traffic, etc.

3. Team Tents: There are two designated locations for team tents. See the venue map for acceptable team tent areas.   The Regatta Director will assign team tent areas. No tents will be permitted in the area around the boathouses. This will be strictly enforced.

4. Launch Schedule: The Regatta Director will maintain a very strict launch schedule in order to ensure the regatta is run on schedule. Crews arriving at the dock after final call for their event may be turned away from the dock. When launching, competitors must bring all oars with their boats as regatta volunteers will assign them directly to the least congested dock. The dock masters will provide recommendations for launch but it is the responsibility of each crew to launch in time to arrive at the start on time. The starting area is a 30-45 minute row – plan accordingly.

5. Handicap Access: Sandy Run Regional Park offers all of its handicapped patrons parking access at the top of the boathouses at Sandy Run. Any special needs should be communicated to the organizers at

6.  Parking:  Vehicle parking is very limited at Sandy Run Regional Park therefore carpooling is highly recommended. The cost of parking and the proximity of parking spaces will be determined based upon the number of passengers in each vehicle, with the cost decreasing and the parking being closer to the event when the number of passengers per vehicle is higher.

Although subject to change as parking space requires, the following parking rates will apply for all-day Saturday and Sunday after 11:00 am:

  • No charge for buses, team vans carrying 12 people or more, and car toppers.
  • $20.00 for vehicles with 1-11 persons

Sunday Parking – Parking will begin with shuttle parking at the Vulcan Quarry TURN RIGHT AT THE LIGHT WITH THE SIGN FOR VULCAN.  There will be no spectator parking or rower drop off at the venue on Sunday until 11 am.  There will be many shuttles running in the morning.  Please do not drive to the venue on Sunday before 11, you will be turned around! All teams will be issued 4 parking passes to allow access to the venue on Sunday. These are for coaches, team tent coordinators, and other personal that need to park onsite.

7. Shuttles within the Park:  Free shuttles are offered from the upper parking lots to unction of Lots C & D.

8. Viewing Areas:  Spectators are encouraged to view the races from the open area below the boathouses. Any spectators in and around the boathouse area must avoid the boat traffic area and avoid areas designated for coaches and athletes only. These areas will be clearly marked.

9. Prohibited:  No dogs, open flames, or alcohol will be permitted in the park. All attendees must abide by NVRPA rules. (See:

J. Vendors

1. Vendors: Vendors interested in participation at HOTO should contact Vendor site locations at Sandy Run Park are shown on a schematic:

K. Updates

Important Information:

  • Sunday Events: 18a, 18b, 21a, and 21b “Club” events: No junior boats permitted for this event.
  • Coaches: On Sunday, your faster boats must be entered in the “Upper Boat” category. Should you be entering a Lower Boat, two Upper Boats must be entered.
  • Men’s and Women’s Junior 4+’s and 8+’s will be limited to 30 boats per event. Organizations may not enter more than three boats per each event.
  • There will be no Novice Junior/Youth boats permitted in HOTO. November’s weather, wind, and water conditions and the length of the head race can be arduous and dangerous to inexperienced crews. Foot traffic and congestion on The Hill to and from the water and the long wait times on The Hill are also a concern. Any coach who decides to enter a junior / youth novice boat does so at her/his own risk.
  • 11:59pm Eastern Time on October 15 is the registration deadline, this is firm. There is no late registration deadline. No extensions, no day-of / on-site boat adds.
  • No booster club utility trailers / “chuck wagons” are permitted in the park beyond the need to unload upon arrival and load upon departure from Sandy Run Regional Park. Teams and Clubs are responsible for the off-site parking of these vehicles.
  • OBC strongly encourages all attendees to car / van pool, use buses to help minimize vehicular traffic to Sandy Run Regional Park.
  • OBC reserves the right to move competitors to other events and change the schedule at any time.
  • Sandy Run Regional Park has 24 spots available on a first-come, first-served basis for team tents and designated areas.
  • Masters divisions are based on average age. Please register in the appropriate age category.
  • NVRPA rules prohibit pet dogs in the park on regatta days at Sandy Run Regional Park.
  • There are no running water toilets; Johnny-on-the-spot is the norm.
  • No electrical power is available.
  • Go to for a mobile friendly website; subscribe to it for all the latest news and updates.
  • All registrants will receive updates and reminders of these rules via email days before the regatta, be sure to check your “spam” and trash folders for any news from OBC.

Thank you for your cooperation in helping to make HOTO a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

We look forward to seeing you in November!

If you have any questions or comments about the regatta send an email to