UCSB Crew was founded in 1965 by a handful of ambitious students, making it not only UCSB’s first rowing team, but also UCSB’s first club sport. While the team had a slow start, beginning with just nine self-taught men and a few borrowed boats, the state of the program today indicates that the team is anything but slow: thousands of members later, personally commemorated and etched into the team’s history with individually assigned varsity numbers, the Women’s and Men’s programs combined have grown to become a force to be reckoned with.
While the Men’s team officially began in 1965, the Women’s team did not come to exist until 1972 when the Shell and Oar group transformed themselves from supporters to rowers. Shell and Oar was a group of women who supported the original rowing team, conducting important behind-the-scenes logistical business of the team, such as traveling to regattas, fundraising for equipment and gear, and cheering on the team from the shores and docks. These tough, motivated women quickly realized they wanted to share in the action and glory, and formed the women’s team and donned the gold tanks of UCSB as well, to race alongside the men. Their team continues to be a pinnacle in club rowing to this day.
These days, not only do both teams challenge their west-coast rivals at every chance, earning trophies at huge regattas such as Crew Classic, Western Regionals (WIRA), and Nationals (ACRA); they also step up to the immense challenge of facing Divison I teams across the country. They travel the country, from Seattle to Boston, to face both club and DI teams in large-scale regattas, most prominently the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, the largest rowing event in the world. But they don’t just step up to the challenge; they absolutely smash it! The team has consistently placed well in the Head of the Charles, earing them returning invitations, and won the men’s and women’s combined national championship title four years in a row. The women’s team especially has placed a huge role in this success, dominating their competition at ACRA and consistently winning their team title. Both club team and Division I teams all across the country recognize and fear those “damn gold tanks” that the UCSB crew team proudly sports.
The team is now in its 54th year as a UCSB club program, and has experienced major change and success in the last few years. The mean’s team, which has experienced two major coaching changes in the last 3 years, made history in 2017 when the Varsity 8+ won the national title, beating out powerhouse Michigan for the first time. The women’s Varsity 8+ and 2V8+ have swept their respective races by wide margins for the past 3 years.
The men’s team is now at the hands of the experienced coach JP Sekulich, who plans on rocketing this team to even greater heights than ever before. The women’s team experienced a tough loss of long time head coach Mike Holmes, but is resilient as ever, and will be led this season by new coach Alyssa Dewey. Both coaches are excited for this upcoming racing season and look forward to putting UCSB’s name and reputation atop the leaderboard once again.
Now sporting a combined team of over 120 athletes, UCSB is gunning for both their individual and combined national championship titles, to make history once again. As past, present, and future members continue to invest time, energy, and sweat into this team; they give the program new opportunity and growth so that the legacy of pride, passion, tradition, and excellence may be passed down to future Gaucho rowers. All donors, alumni, parents, friends, and all other supporters help make the experience of every UCSB rower a life-changing adventure that they will cherish forever. Thank you to all of you who allowed this program to thrive over the years, we won’t dishonor the legacy of UCSB Crew!