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March 26, 2022

The Boys in the Boat - Crew Classic

If you have not read The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown I can certainly recommend it.  Or you can wait for the 2023 release of the movie from director/producer George Clooney.

The San Diego Crew Classic is the largest regatta in the nation, with over 400 competitors here.  There are even ‘Girls in the Boats’.

Friday was for registration, staging and practice.  The large lot at Crown Point was filled with trucks and trailers and the parking lot with buses.

the boats were unloaded and staged for inspection, cleaning and assembly.

It’s not as difficult as an Ikea project, but the oar arms, seats and shoes all need to be installed.  And in the right location for the person in that station.  Here’s UC Davis at work, surprisingly, they were one of the few that proudly had their name on their boat.

Making final inspections.  The shoes are bolted to the push plate, which can rock.  The strap between the shoes is the ‘ejection’ strap.  That will release the Velcro holding the rower’s feet in the rowing shoes in the event of a capsize.

The Washington Huskies are here.  I attended briefly, but my kid brother graduated a proud husky.

Assigned seating!  It kinda has to be that way to accommodate the preferred seat and grip of each team member.

The assembled boats are moved to their team’s area.  With luck, an area with shade.

But most areas lack shade

When the assembly and inspection is complete, it’s time for testing.  Friday afternoon the boats are in the water to test the equipment and run the course.

The ever popular Beer Garden is now double walled to prevent smuggling out a beverage.

Some teams have their own tent to hang out in.

While the smaller schools will share facilities.  This lunch is set up for Freedom Rows, an exhibition team helping US Vets.

The boat in the center is a 4-person without a Coxswain.  It’s the cox job to make sure the team executes the race strategy or make any needed tactical changes.

So many boats yet to be staged.

On my bike ride back the Friday afternoon gang was in their usual shady spot.  Mostly fun country or clogging music.

Saturday Race Day!

It’s really hard to tell the teams apart with 8 racing lanes.  And they are FAST!

The race course is 2000 yards from Ski Beach to Crown point.  Trying to keep pace with your boyfriend’s team is not easy.

San Diego State’s gals won their heat, with the Long Beach Sharks gals last.  I mention this ‘cause grandgirl Kg goes to The Beach.  Maybe she might have to crew.

There are two chase boats for each race. I thought they were for rescue, nope!  They are the judges to ensure each race is fair and safe.

I was rooting for this yellow boat in the foreground.  It’s the Netherlands Nereus Club rowing team!  A long way from home.  And they won!  

The easiest way to watch the regatta is on the ultra-big screen in the food court.

More appropriately the Food Truck Court.

The screen also shows the race info and lane assignments.

But to feel the energy, it’s all down at the water.

The boats are tagged with their race and lane assignments.  And after the race some energy has to be saved to carry it all back up to the staging area.

The Texas gals warming up on the Spin Cycles.  I sat next to a fella my age who crewed for Santa Barbara as did his son, who now coaches Texas.  Wish I had made the connection while I was talking to him.  That’s three generations of crew.   Good Luck Texas!

And Vendors …

Nothing I needed ...

After the finals tomorrow the winner will have their names engraved on the Trophy.

That was my day, it was a good one.  Fran went up to watch some LPGA thing … yawn!, but she enjoyed it. 

Hope you had a good day too!


  1. What a great day!! I really enjoy watching crew and I did read the book and loved it!! I can see where watching on the big screen would be easier to follow. But how interesting to observe the setting up of the boats.

    1. The Big Screen with its multiple cameras made each race easy to follow, but the fun of being there was in the crew pits and watching the action at from the water's edge.

  2. Very interesting! There is a lot more that goes into crewing than one thinks!

    1. That's the truth! But then nothing is as easy as it looks :)
      Thanks for following along.

  3. WOW! What a day! I’ve watched this on TV and never realized so much went into the races. How fun to be there to feel the energy and hear the excitement!

    1. Watching the event on TV, even in the Olympics, just does not show the give the the same experience as being at the regatta.
      It was indeed a fun day.

  4. I had some friends who rowed during college and it was a significant undertaking - a lot of early mornings and brutal conditions and travel, etc. I have a lot of respect for students who take on that level of commitment in addition to everything else. It's nice that plenty of people came out to watch and support them. Seems like a fun way to spend the afternoon.

    1. Good Grief! I certainly appreciate their level of commitment, it borders on a passion!
      It was a great day watching and talking to folks doing what they love to do and sharing their experiences.

  5. That's quite a production! We used to sit on the dock and watch SUNY Geneseo's crew train on Conesus Lake but never fully appreciated what they went through!

    1. You had a perfect site there! Must be a few clubs/schools that use the Finger Lakes for training.

  6. Sure is more involved than I thought. Saw the UW crew on Lake Washington.

    1. I've watched them too. With some Lake Washington HS friends we'd rent canoes at the UW and paddle thru the arboretum.

  7. Such a cool and unique sport - thanks for sharing a great day!

    1. It was a great day on the bay! Bet you didn't have a crew team at your Desert Center High School! :)

  8. Very nice chronology. When I first went to UCLA, I inquired about joining the rowing team, as I was ready for a change from my HS football & wrestling stent and thought rowing would be a great workout. However, I was turned away as UCLA required rowers to be at least 5'11" or taller in order to reach the oars and foot rest...

    1. I didn't know of the height requirement. My niece crewed at UPS, she's about 5'4. I also did wrestling in HS along with track, but Vietnam prevented any thought of a college sport.


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