My San Diego Crew Classic

Image from San Diego Crew Classic website.

4 February 2020

By Larry Fogelberg

You’ve never heard of the San Diego Crew Classic? Neither had I. But early in April 2016, my sister celebrated her “round” birthday with the extended family staying in two big vacation flats at Mission Bay.

I was delighted to discover that San Diego Rowing Club (SDRC) was just a good walk along the water front from where we were. A member of the club had visited my club, FRG Germania in Frankfurt, rowing with us, and invited me to row with them. I did, but that is not what this is about.

I discovered that the San Diego Crew Classic was that very weekend, and the course was right there, on the far side of the island where I had rowed that morning. It is a major two-day regatta for eights, but “classic”, if I hadn’t heard of it? But I have been living abroad since it was started in 1973. Would the Brits or Germans consider a regatta to be “classic” if it didn’t date back to the 19th century?

Okay, maybe 40+ years is enough to make something classic in California. That wouldn’t astonish my friends at the San Diego RC, a club founded in 1885.

But it is a very impressive regatta, a season-opener at the first weekend in April. Crews come from as far as the East Coast to feel the sun and smell warm, salt air. The regatta website can tell you more about the regatta, much better than I can, so I will just add a couple of personal impressions.

The man I had sculled with that morning spent half a day in a stake boat – up to seven boats in a start. The course – which is not on a river – is a broad stretch of open water, susceptible to wind and tides. My rowing companion remarked that it was difficult for some crew getting their heading at the start. Coxes are advised to learn to use Bow and Two to correct drift.

You will never see so many eights in one place, and from my experience, so many stalls offering everything from socks to outrigger-roll-seat equipment one can fasten to a canoe. The big hospitality venues may not be as fancy as the ones at Henley, and the guests not as stylishly dressed, but then Crew Classic is not a Royal Regatta.

How did the family party end? I was rowing in an SDRC four, when the family photo was taken, that is why I refrain from reminding my wife about the regatta or the hospitality of San Diego Rowing Club.

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