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September 27, 2012
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HOT DM returns for its 29th year

By Dave Mable

The Head of Des Moines Regatta races take place on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Often associated with names like Oxford, Cambridge and the Schuylkill River with its Boathouse Row, the sport of rowing makes its presence know in Des Moines for the 29th year this weekend.

The 29th Annual Head of The Des Moines — or “HOT DM” — Rowing Regatta is hosted by the Des Moines Rowing Club has become one of the premier distance races in the Midwest, if not the U.S.

Different from Olympic-style races, a “head” race covers a significant length of a river, in this case a three-mile stretch of the Des Moines River. Crews (or “teams”) from both clubs and universities will descend upon Prospect Park on the north side of Des Moines for a day of colorful competition.

The collegiate competition will attract teams from Notre Dame, Michigan, Colorado, Minnesota and Nebraska. The University of Iowa, Iowa State and Drake will also field teams in this distinguished event, as well as clubs from throughout the region — traveling to Des Moines from as far as Indiana and Ohio for the chance to compete. The races are open to anyone from teens to masters.

Viewing a regatta can be an exciting experience of energy and color, as boats, with as many as eight rowers powerfully pulling the oars, reaching speeds of more than 20 mph. While the spraying and splashing of water makes it truly awesome to watch, the best teams will appear very quiet and smooth as they slice through the water with fluid control in perfect synchronization, resulting in what appears to be a glide through glassy waters.

Although they make it look easy, these athletes are using every facet of their abilities, both physically and cognitively — strengths they ask of their bodies, from the tip of their toes to the top of their heads, including race strategies needed to compete in a three-mile race.
During the 25-minute race, rowers must manage their energy strategically at different points in the course, exerting and conserving as needed.
The best place to watch this year’s regatta is from the seat of bicycle. It starts at Prospect Park, where spectators can mingle among both the collegiate and club crews as they prep their boats and bodies for the variety of races to come. Then folks can venture down-river to the starting line in front of the Botanical Center, so the riverside bike trail makes an ideal place to follow the race from start to finish.

The race website has a helpful viewers’ guide at HYPERLINK "http://www.headofthedesmoines.org"www.headofthedesmoines.org.
Racing begins at 8:30 a.m. and continues until the final event at 3:30 p.m. CV

Sidebar:

‘Sculling’ the ‘shells’ with a ‘cox’

The boats, called “shells,” range in capacity from one to eight rowers. Larger shells often have one non-rowing member, called a coxswain or “cox,” who steers the boat and guides the crew. The coxswains aboard winning boats are often playfully thrown into the river after a successful race. Two basic types of boats will be at HOT DM: a scull and a sweep-boat. Sculls have rowers with an oar in each hand, two oars for every rower (or “sculler”) in the boat. Sweep rowers use only one oar, so an eight-person boat will only have eight oars. Only four and eight-person boats will be set up as sweep boats. Singles, doubles and quads are often set up as sculls. CV



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