As daylight hours dwindle and many of us will be facing many more minutes spent training in the dark and the cold over the next few months, there is a light at the end of the tunnel: the San Diego Crew Classic will welcome all comers back to the sunny shores of Mission Bay next spring. And there is a lot to look forward to.
The Crew Classic is proud to announce new leadership, having brought on four-time Olympian and current Olympic hopeful for Paris, Megan Kalmoe, as the Associate Director of the regatta. Kalmoe will work alongside Executive Director, Bobbie Smith. "I am so happy to have come on board with the team at the Crew Classic," says Kalmoe. "The Crew Classic was my very first regatta experience as a true novice at Washington in 2003 (!) and was a hugely formative part of my early days as a rower. I think all the time about whether or not we could be launching the careers of other future American Olympians, and how we can make the regatta an awesome experience for them."
It is worth noting that the regatta will be led by an all female staff going into its 50th Anniversary year, as the regatta was founded by women in 1973, and has offered women's events from its inception. "I love that we are a feminist regatta," again, from Kalmoe. "The Crew Classic is, and always will be, an organization that strives to include as many people and as many kinds of athletes as we can. I love that our marquee event is the Jessop-Whittier Cup [women's Championship 8+ Invitational] and that the top NCAA women's programs want to come here to see each other, and open their seasons here with us. The regatta started as a way to bring the top collegiate men's crews together in the 1970s, but it really has evolved to reflect the quality of competition that we're seeing nationwide in women's NCAA rowing. I personally cannot wait to see the fastest women's crews in the country face off here in April."
The biggest change that will happen with the 2023 regatta will be the addition of Friday Racing, which turns the Crew Classic into a three-day event for the first time in its history. Adding Friday afternoon racing will allow for the regatta to both add more events, and also to shorten the Saturday and Sunday programs, easing the burden that falls on regatta volunteers, staff and officials over the course of the weekend.
For junior competitors, the Crew Classic will be offering two new events: Men's and Women's Youth B Quads. For the Masters crowd, the regatta will be expanding its event offerings to include six new Masters events: Men's and Women's Club Quads, Men's and Women's Intermediate Club 8+s, Mixed Club 8+, and Mixed Club Novice 8+. Masters sculling will be making its debut at the regatta in 2023, and has already proven to be extremely popular. "We sold out our Masters Women's Quad in ten days-I think that's a record," says Smith. "People have been asking me to add it for years, and I'm happy that we could finally put it on the program this year." Diversifying disciplines should add more opportunity for participants, as well should the addition of the Intermediate 8+ and Mixed 8+s.
"Megan and I are constantly looking at how we can make the regatta more appealing and more inclusive to as many types of athletes as possible," says Smith. "By adding Intermediate and Novice events for our Masters participants, we hope that we can encourage more people to come and race, and to enjoy the event, even if they are newer to the sport." Smith and Kalmoe also hope that adding Mixed 8+s to the program will offer more options for LGBTQIA+ athletes and non-binary participants to feel welcome and compete.
"Part of our identity as a Southern Californian sporting event is maintaining that we are a space that welcomes all athletes-no matter who you are-and that we want to continue to support our community by offering events that don't require athletes to conform to, or declare anything to anyone, in order to be included," says Kalmoe. You can read the rules and guidelines regarding the updated events program on the Crew Classic website.
Other changes to look forward to in 2023 include an expanded Beer Garden and hospitality options, improved live stream, and reimagined trophy and awards experience for race winners.
"I know I'm new here and still have a lot to learn," says Kalmoe, "but I'm so excited to try some new things for next year to see if we can't make the regatta experience for our athletes and their supporters just 1% better. It's hard to beat racing in San Diego in April when a lot of the country might still be frozen-but I want to make sure our participants leave here feeling like they can't wait to come back."
The 50th Anniversary of the San Diego Crew Classic will take place March 31-April 2, 2023 at Crown Point Shores on Mission Bay. Early registration is currently open for all events and will close January 31, 2023. Late registration (with additional fees) closes March 13, 2023. Advance ticket sales will open on November 25. Learn more at www.crewclassic.org.