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 it is now. The regatta outgrew Newell, and then the IAB (the Indoor Athletic Building, now the MAC, the Malkin Athletic Center), the QRAC (Radcliffe 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 Rockwell Cage. In 1997 C.R.A.S.H.-B. moved to an even larger and ultra-modern facility, the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center at Roxbury Community College. Since 2008, the venue is at 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 late 1980s, 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 we elected him Commodore for Life. While Kurt retains this title in our hearts, rower and coach Linda Muri is now the third president in the 28 year history of the C.R.A.S.H.-B. Board.
In the very beginning, the race was five miles on the Concept2 Model A ergometer, which had an odometer and a bicycle wheel. From the introduction of the Model B ergometer in the mid-1980s 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 the 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 2,000m. The race is rowed on the latest Concept2 Model D ergometers, which are used by athletes at universities, clubs, schools, and national teams around the globe. Although C.R.A.S.H.-B. as an organization maintains an untraditional 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.