Sunday 28th of November 2021, the Groninger Student Rowing Association ‘Aegir’ (G.S.R. Aegir) will organise the 44rd Hel van het Noorden (Hell of the North). The ‘Hel van het Noorden’ is a six-kilometre-long head race for singles and Coxless pairs on the Eemskanaal in Groningen, the Netherlands.

The race has its humble beginnings in a time-trial first organised in 1975 on the Starckenborghkanaal by the G.S.R. Aegir. Following numerous great races, the competition was discovered by the Royal Dutch Rowing Association (KNRB) and the Hel has ever since been an important trial moment for the selection of Dutch national rowers.

In 1988 the race was moved from the Starckenborghkanaal to the Eemskanaal. Aegir had moved from its original location to the Stockholmstraat, which lead to be more logistically favourable to move the race to the Eemskanaal. Furthermore, the Eemskanaal was much better suited for the growing number of participants thanks to its greater size. To this day, the Eemskanaal has been the location of many ferocious races.

The ‘Hel van het Noorden’ has over the years grown to become one of the most loved and important selection moments for many rowing associations and international rowers. In singles and Coxless pairs, the rowers can compete not only against the national rowers but also against the strong international teams.


Over the past years many improvements have been made. Since 1986, the race has been electronically timed. With the help of new techniques, every kilometre has a signal to track the passage of the rowers and to record their time. This way the race can be followed live at Aegir as well as online through laptops and smartphones. This information proves very useful for the coaches, who are able to follow their rowers and observe the strong and weak points of them during this long and harsh competition.

On the 23rd of November 2009, the Eemskanaal was, for the first time, equipped with a warming-up rowing lane. This way the rowers do not have to wait at the start during the terribly cold conditions of late November. This year the feature will also be present.

Since 2013 the Hel van het Noorden has worked together with Time-Team to make the outcomes even more precise.

The organisation hopes to welcome you in Groningen on the 29th of November.