Purdue Crew was founded in 1949. From the first callout, eight rowers: Marvin Sarcher, Jim Prout, Jim Boutloop, Walt “Howie” Walters, Don Schnorr, Jay Lushe, Jack Stimson and Dave Eckhardt and coxswain Ken Butler returned for the inaugural 1950-51 season. Ground, donated from the Intramural Department, was broken in the fall of 1950 for the construction of Purdue Crew’s first boathouse. These rowers, along with Coach Haken Refsum, laid the foundations for the future of Purdue Crew. Practice was held at any available field before the construction of a recreation center or Lambert Fieldhouse. With the acquisition of a shell from the University of Pennsylvania, the rowers of Purdue Crew were able to launch for the first time.
In 1951, Purdue Crew competed in the First National Rowing Regatta in Marietta, Ohio. Despite the team’s poor finish, visibility was growing around campus and was attracting new rowers. As the years passed and rowing became more established at Purdue, the team grew. Since 1955, there has been more than one crew practicing on the Wabash with the addition of the Junior Varsity Eight. Competition grew with the team. Purdue Crew began racing schools from all across the nation, including Fordham University, University of Tampa, but most importantly, the Dad Vail Rowing Association Regatta.
Purdue Crew went through a important change in 1974; women joined the men on the Wabash. Since their founding, the women have found success rowing the Wabash. Purdue’s success on the water continued into the 1990s with many boats medaling at national regattas. In 1997, the men’s junior varsity eight took second at the Dad Vail Regatta along with the women’s varsity eight who took the bronze medal. 1998 was a special year for the Purdue Crew women. The junior varsity won their event, and the regatta was topped off by the varsity eight that won themselves a trip to London to race in the Henley Women’s Regatta.
Purdue Rowing continued its success at the Dad Vail regatta into the next century. The Varsity Men’s Lightweight Eight won its event in 2000. That year, the team took home the Overall Points Trophy, the Men’s Point Trophy, the Women’s Secord Varsity Eight Trophy and the Lightweight Men’s Trophy. There was a small drought in Dad Vail success for a few years but was broken in 2007 when both men’s and women’s Varsity Eights won their events. This was the first time the men had won the Dad Vail. Their dominance would continue into the next year when the boat with many returning members successfully defended their title.
In 2010, Purdue Crew redefined itself. A new boathouse, the Levee Boathouse, was opened for all crews to train out of. This new massive facility has everything the team needs to practice year-round. This boathouse is almost five times the size of the old Fort Boathouse and has five boat bays, three more than the old boathouse. In it’s first year of use, three crews won their events at the Dad Vail regatta, the novice men’s heavyweight and lightweight eights and the women’s Varsity Eight, who won a second bid to race at the prestigious Henley Women’s Regatta. The season was capped off by both heavyweight eights defending their titles at the American Collegiate Rowing Association Regatta.
Novice rowing at Purdue has done very well since 2012. The Novice Women’s Eight took third place in 2012 along with the Novice Men’s Lightweight Eight who finished second in their event. In 2013 and 2014, the lightweight men have been consistently some of the fastest lightweight boat at the Dad Vail Regatta. Both years, both boats finished third in their respective category.
We here at Purdue Crew are looking to continue on our success from these past years and improve on it in the coming year.