San Diego Crew Classic
From its modest beginnings over four decades ago, the San Diego Crew Classic has matured into the largest regatta in the world held for primarily eight-oared rowing shells. The regatta provides a venue for high school junior programs, collegiate teams, masters’ clubs, and even Olympic-level competition. San Diegans can be proud of the strong influence the regatta has had nationally on the sport of rowing. 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 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.