First held in 1980, CRASH-B (Charles River All Star Has-Beens) Sprints was a “fun little event” of fewer than two dozen rowers who trained on the Charles River. It was the brainchild of a group of 1976-1980 US Olympic and World Team Athletes who were looking for something to do through the winter when the U.S. boycotted the 1980 Olympics.
The event quickly grew, and within a few years came to be revered as the International World Indoor Rowing Championships. This year, rowers ages 12 to 95 (!) from around the world participated in Open, Heavyweight, Juniors, Masters, Veteran, and Adaptive events. The field varied widely in experience and focus – some competitors are CrossFitters who have never set foot in a boat, but are beasts on the erg; others are former Olympians. While every single participant deserves recognition for their commitment to training and competition, the results below feature the top three finishers in each event.
NEW WORLD RECORDS SET
British rower Graham Benton – who, in 2006 became the first GB rower since Sir Steve Redgrave to win the Men’s Open event at the World Indoor Rowing Championships – broke his own record in the Sr. Master Men HWT (Age 40-49), shaving off four seconds to finish in 5:48.3 – a time that topped all other competitors this year.
In the Veteran Women HWT (55-59), Team RowPro’s Anne Bourlioux scorched the competition, pulling a 7:10.1 which earned her a win and a world record. She adds this WR to a 2011 60-minute,15,138m row in the Women’s heavyweight 50-59 category; and a 2012 record-setting 10k in 38:33:00.
65-year-old Tor Arne Simonsen traveled from Norway’s Skullerud sportscenter to show off his speed in the Veteran Men LTWT (65-69) category. His WR 6:51.7 was an incredible 21.1 seconds ahead of the second place finisher. (Apparently he enjoys singing as well, as we found in this recording.)
Cambridge Boat Club rower Roger Borggaard, competing in the Veteran Men HWT 70-74, beat the previous record set in 2015 by one and a half seconds when he stopped the clock at 6:52.1. This isn’t Borggaard’s first WR – in 2011 he beat the Men’s 65-69 HWT field with a time of 6:41.4
Still at it at 95, Stephen Richardson returned to CRASH-B for the twentieth time. He hasn’t been on the water in about five years, but he can still pull an erg handle! This American finished in 13:21.5, setting a record in the 95-99 age category.
THE “ALMOST, BUT NOT QUITE” AWARDS
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of world record hunters, but there are plenty of other exciting rowers to watch at CRASH-B Sprints, too. Three events ended with a less than one second split between first and second place. Here’s a big cheer to rowers that almost, but not quite, won:
JUNIOR MEN, HWT
Joseph Johnson out of powerhouse Gonzaga College High School, pulled a 6:01.7, just .7 second behind first place finisher (and teammate) Christian Tabash.
MASTER MEN, HWT (30-39) Just three tenths of a second separated first place from third when Texas DPS rower Derek Peterson squeaked in sub-6 at 5:59.8 to finish third. Ross Love of Team Ross Fit pulled a 5:59.6, and University Barge Club’s John Lipros topped the category in 5:59.5.
VETERAN WOMEN C, LTWT (60-64) Community Rowing’s Lisa Doucett just barely missed gold with a time of 8:20.0, a hair off the winning time of 8:19.4 pulled by Anne Strobridge from Mile High Rowing Club.
CALL IT A DRAW
It’s not very often that a race ends in a tie, but Carrie Graves, a three-time U.S. Olympian (’76, ’80 and ’84) who topped the Heavyweight Veteran Women’s 60-64 in 2015 had to share the podium this year with Ann Wopat of Lake Union Crew. Both women pulled a very respectable 7:39.6.