With the increased number of crews, heats and finals were conducted for the ninth Head of the River with the finalists listed below. The heats were conducted on 11th May and the finals on 13th May 1876, all on the Upper Yarra.
Two matters of controversy surrounded this race this year. Firstly Scotch claimed that it did not need to row the heats as title holder. This was naturally ignored by the other schools. Secondly, one of the terms of the Sumner Cup was that the crews had to be under 19 as at 1st January in the year of the race. One of the Scotch crew did not match that date. This was resolved.
Geelong Grammar competed well despite it being reported that their Captain of Boats, C N Armitage withdrew due to a bereavement in his family and G M Smith broke down.
This was a momentous year for the sport of rowing with Edward Trickett winning the World Professional Sculling Championship in England. He was to be the first Australian World Champion in any sport.
Starter: Mr J H Hood
Umpire: Mr Tom Colles
Judge: Mr Cornish
Head of the River
Margin: 3 lengths
1st Scotch College - Bow: Robert A Baillie, 2: Robert J P Simson, 3: Samuel C Lamrock, Str: T G Evans, Cox: Frederick J Edwards, Cch: John Wallace
2nd Geelong Grammar - Bow: G M Smith, 2: D S Walker, 3: D F Cole, Str: R H Cole, Cox: F Godfrey, Cch: H Upton
Other crews competing:
Wesley College - Bow: H V Champion, 2: G N Moody, 3: A T Robb, Str: W C Kent. Cox: H S Tuckfield, Cch: H M Andrew
Melbourne Grammar - Bow: W L Splatt, 2: T D Watson, 3: F S Stephen, Str: F G Smith, Cox: C G Shuter, Cch: J C Burton
E1: 1st GGS, 2nd WC. Time: 9:25.0. Margin 2 lengths. The Wesley crew had recently lost one of their crew to drowning and the crew was not in good form.
E2: 1st SC, 2nd MGS, Time: 9.00.0. Margin: 3 lengths. Only the first part of this race was tight.