Spectators at the 43rd annual San Diego Crew Classic will be treated to more than just rowing races this year. Last year spectators and competitors welcomed the ROWAK event, a fast-paced race pitting champion rowers and kayakers in a sprint. ROWAK will return to Mission Bay this year, along with Freedom Rows, celebrating veteran rowers, and the inaugural Myrmidon Mash, an event matching elite athletes and veterans against those looking to compete alongside champions.
The 2015 ROWAK event stunned spectators with its close finish. With most viewers well aware of the indefatigable torque of rowers’ legs, many expected the rowers to trounce the kayakers, who instead rely on their comparably smaller upper body to move a boat. Surprising everyone watching onshore, the kayakers bolted from the starting line, immediately opening up a lead on the rowers. Although the rowers finally overtook the kayakers, the paddlers’ strength and speed caught both rowers and spectators off guard, and the paddlers will be looking to finish what they started last year. This event will take place following Masters racing Sunday afternoon and is sure to maintain the energy and excitement of Race Day.
For many, rowing has provided a welcoming community, and U.S. Rowing is proud to extend that invitation to disabled veterans and members of the armed forces. The Freedom Rows program helps disabled veterans compete in adaptive and para-rowing events via assistance from experts and coaches who have tailored plans to help these veterans get on the water, fall in love with the sport and compete at the highest levels. Spectators can cheer on these inspirational veteran athletes Saturday afternoon.
Equally inspirational and new to the San Diego Crew Classic this year is the Myrmidon Mash. These Myrmidons are a group of elite veterans and Olympians on a mission to show the positive attributes of strict military and athletic training. Summoning their eponymous heritage, the Myrmidons challenge all comers to an epic battle of a relay race consisting of beach running, swimming, stand-up paddle boarding and boat paddling.
While Achilles won’t be leading the charge, the mere mortal competitors facing down the Myrmidons will need Herculean feats of strength to conquer these Titans and reach Olympus. The saga unfolds Sunday immediately following Masters racing, and for those who would rather show their support from the shore, the beer garden offers prime viewing of the battle royale.
The San Diego Crew Classic invites competitors and spectators to enjoy the quintessential spring regatta with a side of fun with these passionate displays of athleticism.