VICTORIA – Some of the top competitors from around the Pacific Northwest will descend upon Victoria this weekend for a pair of regattas that feature fierce competition, multiple twists and turns, a run through the narrows where a boat must rely upon the ‘angel of the gorge’ to guide them and… a costume contest.


It is once again time for the UVic Vikes rowing teams to host the annual Head and Tail of the Gorge regattas that will take place this weekend on the Gorge Waterway on Oct. 21 and 22 respectively.

The two-day event offers spectators a unique viewing opportunity as the Head of the Gorge course winds it’s way down the Gorge Waterway, crossing under multiple bridges that force the crews to battle both each other and the harrowing narrows.

“Something that is unique to our regatta is that there is a reversible waterfall in the middle of the course,” said Vikes women’s team head coach Rick Crawley. “It’s narrow and when you are going out or back, you are rowing uphill. If you are lucky you get flat conditions, but it’s a little swirly and the currents throw some interesting aspects into it. Usually at some point during the day it starts to come back out and it is hard to get through there.”

The boats leave the line in ten second intervals, racing in single file while trying to battle the clock around the winding corners. Sunday’s route starts at the Portage Inlet along the Trans Canada highway and runs past the Craigflower Bridge to end at Esquimalt Park.

A favourite among the participating crews is the added fun of a costume competition that takes place during the Head of the Gorge race. For the first time this year there will be a trophy awarded to the team that races in the most creative outfits.

“There have been some great costumes over the years,” said Crawley. “The all-time record for craziness is probably the Calgary crew that rowed as Stormtroopers, they actually raced in the outfits and I think everybody in that boat lost about 20 lbs. during the race.”