The Head of the Lake was first raced in 1979 when a small group of scullers at Lake Washington Rowing Club agreed to race each other at the end of the season. The fall race would help the athletes gauge their progress in their training regimen. The University of Washington also competed that year to give their collegians a chance to also do some fall racing. From this humble beginning, the Head of the Lake regatta was created and quickly became an annual local event.
As the rowing community grew so did the number of participants. Over the years, collegiate crews from Oregon, California, Texas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, Canada have competed. Masters rowers have traveled from places as far as California, Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, Maryland and Rhode Island.
Head of the Lake is now the largest fall rowing regatta on the West Coast. The level of competition has risen dramatically over the years, making this a challenging and prestigious rowing event.