San Diego Crew Classic

  • Apr 4, 2009 To Apr 5, 2009
  • sprint
  • Mission Bay
  • San Diego, CA (USA)
  • Hosted By San Diego Crew Classic
  • 2016 Registered Regatta

San Diego Crew Classic® History

By Erin Kelley - George Mason University

It’s the first weekend of April, the sun is shining radiantly over the stunning waters of Mission Bay in San Diego, and thousands of people are lining its beautiful shores. Many of the people are helping their teammates get ready for the event they have been training for all year. Almost as many are here this morning to help keep the event running smoothly. Others are there to watch the long awaited competition. Some are natives of California, while others have traveled hundreds of miles to make sure they arrived at Mission Bay by Saturday. What is the event that brings all of these people from almost every part of the world to Mission Bay for the weekend? They come to California to attend the San Diego Crew Classic®. From seven o’clock in the morning on Saturday till 2:30 in the afternoon on Sunday, they will be competing, volunteering, watching, and cheering at Crown Point Shores, Mission Bay.

In the early 1970s, several San Diegans came together to create the Crew Classic®. Most of them came from two rowing clubs: The San Diego Rowing Club, which was founded in 1888, and the ZLAC Rowing Club for women, which was founded in 1892. Patty Wyatt, Joe Jessop Sr., Andy Borthwick and Glenn Rick were proponents of a dedicated San Diego rowing course in protected water. Together with Del Beekley, Al Bernardini, A. Wharton Coggeshall, Annette Frank, Mary Ann Mabel Hazard, Richard Jessop, General Victor Krulak, Fred Sharp and Donald Waters, they invented an invitational event to occur early in the year before the formal collegiate racing season began. The intent was a fun and fair winner-take-all competition for bragging rights between traditional and up-and-coming rowing powers from across the country. It was programmed to be fast moving and on-time, to keep spectators interested and reduce delays.  Now the group needed teams to compete. With the help of General Krulak, the group persuaded the Naval Academy to participate. The University of Washington, a powerhouse in the West, was also scheduled to compete. UCLA was also part of the first varsity race. So, in April of 1973, the first San Diego Crew Classic® was up and running and it went over extremely well. The Naval Academy, Washington, Long Beach State, Loyola, San Diego State, UC San Diego, Orange Coast College, UCLA and UC Santa Barbara attended the competition. From all around San Diego area and beyond, people came to watch the event and cheer for the schools. Within a few years, the Copley Cup and Jessop-Whittier Cup were established for the invitational collegiate men’s and women’s varsity races.

Over the years the Crew Classic® has grown in size. Some of the most renowned schools in the United States have competed in the San Diego Crew Classic®. Among those are Harvard, Yale, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Notre Dame, Duke, and University of Virginia. Along with junior and collegiate teams, Masters were included. With the increase in the number of organizations competing, the number of people coming to watch increased.

With the increase in competitors and spectators, the number of volunteers involved also increased. The reason the San Diego Crew Classic has been able to function so well over the years is because of the large number of San Diego volunteers who work year-round toward the success of the event. They have made the regatta what it is today.

Over thirty years ago an idea was formed, and has flourished into one of the greatest rowing events in the United States. The San Diego Crew Classic® has grown to become an event that thousands eagerly await every year. So, remember to watch for the dates of America’s premier spring rowing regatta and mark your calendars accordingly. If you travel to San Diego, not only will you be able to spend time in a beautiful city, but you will be able to watch the San Diego Crew Classic®, one of the most distinguished rowing competitions for eight-oared shells in the world.