C.R.A.S.H.-B. History

Charles River All Star Has-Beens

In the beginning, C.R.A.S.H-B. was a group of 1976-1980 US Olympic and World Team athletes who lurked on the Charles River, never rowing the same lineup twice, never practicing before a race, always jumping the start against Harvard and having a lot of fun too.

The 1980 U.S. boycott of the Olympics was not fun though, and about the same time, Concept2 invented their later-named Model A rowing ergometer, the one with the bicycle wheel, a wooden handle and an odometer. The men (and a few women) of C.R.A.S.H.-B. led by the likes of Tiff Wood, Jake Everett and Holly Hatton, formed a fun little regatta of about twenty rowers in Harvard’s Newell Boathouse, to break up the monotony of winter training.

Within a few short years C.R.A.S.H.-B. grew into the International World Indoor Rowing Championships that it is now. The regatta outgrew Newell, and then the IAB (The indoor Athletic Building, now the MAC, the Malkin Athletic Center), The QRAC (Radcliff Quadrangle Athletic Center), moving to MIT’s Rockwell Cage for many years. In 1995 the regatta moved to Harvard’s Indoor Track Facility, perhaps three times the size of the Rockwell Cage. In 1997 C.R.A.S.H.-B. moved to and even larger and ultra-modern facility, The Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center at Roxbury Community College. Since 2008, the venue is Boston University’s Agganis Arena, a state of the art facility just downstream of the original C.R.A.S.H.-B. site.

In the beginning, the race was five miles on the Concept2 Model A ergometer. From the introduction of the Model B ergometer in the mid-1980’s through 1995, the big race in mid-February was 2,500 meters on the new digital display, because the times were comparable even with the equipment change. To meet specific training demands of international coaches who stress 6K and 2K rankings in the winter, starting with the 1996 World Indoor Rowing Championships the distance changed to 2,000 meters. The race is currently rowed on the latest Concept2 Model D ergometers, which are used by athletes at universities, clubs, schools, and national teams around the world.

In the late 1980’s, when Tiff Wood moved to Seattle, Kurt Somerville, a member of the 1980 US Olympic Eight, took over as Commodore. A few years ago, when he wasn’t looking, we decided we liked him so much that we elected him Commodore for Life. While Kurt retains this title in our hearts, rower and coach Linda Muri took over as the third president in 2008. Under Linda’s watch, the regatta grew even more with the inclusion of events for adaptive athletes. Linda is always easily found during race day on the competitions floor. Just look for the lady in the leopard print robe! Since 2012, athlete Laura Macfarlane has held the position of Commodore.

Although C.R.A.S.H.-B. as an organization maintains a nontraditional irreverence to all things that are not fun, nonetheless this ergometer has become serious business, threatening to replace fun with pain, unless you can equate the two.