The San Diego Crew Classic

The San Diego Crew Classic is the premiere spring rowing regatta. It is highly regarded among rowers spanning generations.

But the SDCC is more than just an event for rowing. San Diego is famous for its multi-faceted and multi-cultural experiences, events, and destinations. The Crew Classic is not only an athletic event with competitors at the peak of physical fitness, but a social gathering for enthusiasts to enjoy great local food, a beer garden with San Diego’s famous local craft breweries, and shopping all while soaking in Mission Bay, just a mile from the beach.
The San Diego Crew Classic spans a lifetime of rowing, bringing athletes from novice to Olympian together, and is the place for rowers to “grow up”.  Many athletes first spring regatta experience is at the SDCC as high school competitors. As a teenager, the SDCC is the greatest introduction to the world of rowing: it is larger than life — the jumbotron, the considerable number of spectators, and rowing shells as far as the eye can see.  As a collegiate athlete, the SDCC means a chance to size up the spring’s competition across the nation and to earn rankings which will affect the rest of the season. As alumni, the SDCC is the place to reconnect with former teammates, friends, and coaches. Many alumni continue to race in both alumni and masters’ club events. It is a common meeting place for families, children, and friends too. The Crew Classic is a place to educate your children and families on the beauty of the sport of rowing, the importance of physical activity and a healthy lifestyle, and what it means to be a teammate and to support one another. The San Diego Crew Classic watches young athletes and individuals mature into socially responsible adults who will further the lessons learned on the waters of Mission Bay, and introduces generation after generation to the sport of rowing.  
San Diego Crew Classic
San Diego Crew Classic
San Diego Crew Classic
San Diego Crew Classic

A WEST COAST REGATTA

The San Diego Crew Classic was formed in 1973 by Patricia Stose Wyatt (a ZLAC member) and Joe Jessop, Sr., (an SDRC member) and other civic-minded San Diegans who intended to bring the nation’s top collegiate crews to Mission Bay in the spring for a showdown regatta. Among the first participants were the University of Washington and the Naval Academy who had developed a great rivalry. When approached with the idea of coming to San Diego for a west coast regatta, they enthusiastically agreed.

Focusing on the largest sweep boats (eights), the first San Diego Crew Classic was a three-hour event with 300 competitors in 12 races. The intent was to hold a fun and fair winner-take-all competition for bragging rights between traditional and up-and-coming rowing powers from across the country. Programmed to be fast moving, it kept the spectators interested!

The Crew Classic’s Influence

By the early 1980s, the regatta enjoyed such prominence that Patricia Stose Wyatt was chosen to run the rowing venue for the 1984 Olympic Games. Patty, a native San Diegan, was admired for her ability to run a rowing regatta efficiently and on time.

Under Patty’s leadership, the San Diego Crew Classic grew to include races for not only collegiate crews, but also for juniors and masters. But the regatta’s influence has had its most dramatic impact on the transformation of the sport at the collegiate level.

Rowing is the oldest collegiate sport in the United States, beginning with the Yale vs. Harvard race of 1852. Since the sport’s inception, the elite Ivy League schools dominated the Collegiate Championships until the late 1970s. As a result, many of the Ivy League crew members were selected for the National and Olympic teams, excluding many west coast rowers.

The Crew Classic played an important role in shifting the balance of the “powerhouse” rowing programs from the east to now include programs from the west coast. In 1975, the Copley Cup was established, and quickly became coveted as the grand prize for winning the premier men’s collegiate invitational race in the nation. The Copley cup today is proudly adorned with the names of many prestigious universities from both coasts, including Harvard, Washington, Penn, Cal, UCLA, and Stanford.

San Diego Crew Classic
San Diego Crew Classic

TODAY

The regatta has grown considerably since that three-hour event in 1973. Today, it is a two-day, nationally acclaimed regatta, consisting of over 100 races with more than 4000 athletes. The protected waters and green lawns of Mission Bay Park offer a perfect setting for this well-loved event. Thousands of spectators watch the races on the popular Jumbotron. And now, thousands more watch the races via a live streaming webcast. The San Diego Crew Classic is living up to its name as America’s Premier Spring Regatta.

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