Harvard’s crew won’t be back to defend it’s Copley Cup title at the San Diego Crew Classic, but there’s plenty of others to make competition interesting off Crown Point shores from April 6-7.
Over four decades, the premier regatta has attracted many of the elite collegiate crews.This year is no exception.
When Harvard won convincingly last year, it marked its first appearance here since 1994 and its ninth overall win. While the Crimsons’ visits might be described as a rarity, that’s not the case with the University of California. The Bears were victors in 2010 and 2011.
“Harvard doesn’t come that often,” said Crew Classic executive director Martha Schumacker. “So, it’s not unusual.”
The University of California is, of course, the perennial favorite to hold off the likes of Syracuse, Stanford, Oregon State, Pennsylvania, Gonzaga and British Columbia.
In addition, UCSD, USD and San Diego State University will have shells in the water.
Schumacker said the Crew Classic basically likes to focus invitations on the teams that finished in the top 25 nationally last .
Jessop-Whittier Cup defender USC will return in a role that has spread to two straight victories and a fourth since 2007 in women’s competition.
USC will be challenged by Duke, Purdue, Cal Berkeley, UCLA, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Washington State.
About 4,400 athletes from more than 125 universities, clubs and high schools from across the U.S. participate in this spring regatta. Athletes, ranging in age from 14 to 84 years, compete in more than 100 races in various divisions.
From a modest start in 1973, the Crew Classic has matured into one of the largest regattas held primarily for eight-oared rowing shells. Today, it is a two-day, nationally acclaimed regatta for juniors, collegiate, masters and even Olympic-level competitors.
An estimated 25,000 spectators watched the races from the shoreline, as well as on the popular Jumbotron TV-screen onsite.
Spectators also can enjoy music, food, art exhibit and a beer garden. The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park Family Festival will provide activities for the children.
Races start near the SeaWorld towers and pass the Ingraham Street Bridge, head north along Mission Bay for 2,000 meters, and finish at Crown Point Shores.
Racing is tentatively scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. each day and action continues until about 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 6 and until about 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. The Jessop-Whittier Cup heats begin early in the morning on Saturday, followed by the Copley Cup heats. The Jessop-Whittier Cup final is set for Sunday morning, followed by the Copley Cup final.
Ticket prices are $12 in advance (crewclassic.org) and $15 on the day of the event. Admission is free for active military with ID and for children under 12.
Parking is $15 per car at Crown Point Shores. There is free parking at Ski Beach, (off Ingraham Street and across from the entrance to Paradise Point Resort), with free shuttle service to the regatta.
— Johnny McDonald is a longtime writer and columnist for the San Diego Community Newspaper Group