Rutgers Rowing in the Nineteenth Century, 1864-1900
Rutgers Crew is Rutgers’ oldest and most prestegious athletic team. During the 1860s the Raritan River, was dotted with various boating clubs populated by city residents along its banks. Witnessing the development of rowing at other institutions, Rutgers students expressed the desire for a way to row. The pleas from the undergraduates were heard and in 1864, the Rutgers Boating Association was founded. With the creation of a team, rowing became the first organized sport at Rutgers. Section two of the original constitution stated the original purpose of organization. It read that the “object of this organization shall be the promotion of health by means of exercise in rowing and also to extend the advantages incident to such exercise to all member of Rutgers College and the Rutgers Scientific School.” The constitution limited membership to undergraduates.
In 1916 the Canadian sculler Joseph Wright became the coach at the University of Pennsylvania. While coaching there, he realized that there were many small, but excellent oarsmen. Wright created a boat that was comprised entirely of these smaller oarsmen. Each rower averaged about 150 pounds. The idea became popular among rowers and soon spread to other schools. By 1919, lightweight rowing became so popular among schools in the East that the American Rowing Association officially recognized the Lightweight Eight as an event. The first significant lightweight race occurred on May 20, 1922. It was a triangular race between Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. The winner of the race was the Princeton crew, who won by a two and a half boat lengths. Yale placed second. Lightweight rowing would become more popular as time progressed with most programs adding a Lightweight boat.
Rutgers Women’s crew began as a club sport in 1974. In 1977, it was elevated to varsity status.
In his 1986 news letter, Bill Wilber ’73 wrote: