Although fun may not be a word readily associated with indoor rowing, the C.R.A.SH.-B.’s clearly look to uphold a sense of humour. A hammer is handed to all winners and the website states, “Although C.R.A.S.H.-B. as an organization maintains a non-traditional irreverence to all things that are not fun, nonetheless this ergometer has become serious business, threatening to replace fun with pain, unless you can equate the two.”

Having fun this year was a largely North American crowd of 1330 athletes, each one vying for a personal best and the very best of these pushing for a legendary hammer.

The most exciting race came in the junior men’s (under 19) category, where a battle raged between Alexandr Matveev of Russia and American Eric Martin (Dallas United Crew). Matveev got off to an early lead, but by 500m to go, Martin snatched the top spot, only to falter in the final stretch as Matveev overtook him for the lead. Only 0.1 seconds separated these two races as they completed the 2000m race. Matveev won the hammer with 6:11.4 while Martin finished with 6:11.5. Matveev raced for the Russian junior national team in 2017.

2018 C.R.A.S.H.-B. indoor rowing, Alexandr Matveev (RUS) © Igor Belakovskiy


“The race was epic,” says Kevin McDonnel of Boston’s Riverside Boat Club, who acted as race commentator for part of the day. “Toe to toe the whole way before the Russian sprinted like mad.”

At the opposite end of the age spectrum, Dottie Stewart from the United States, the competition’s oldest racer broke the indoor rowing World Record (that she herself had set) in the lightweight women’s 95+ category with a time of 14:23.1 for the 2000m distance. “If she keeps getting faster, no one has an excuse,” said event Commodore, Amanda Cox, who calls Stewart’s performance “phenomenal and exciting.”

“There were some awesome displays of amazing racing,” McDonnell says. “Individuals triumphing over the erg, or vice versa, some vomiting and many more CrossFit athletes. I had fun. People had fun, and no doubt, for anyone doing a 2k, it feels just about the same. But as a spectacle, it was certainly smaller in scale without the international talent.”

C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s is as an institution within the sport of rowing. The event has been at the forefront of indoor rowing’s rise from a cross training activity for on-water rowers to a standalone activity with global popularity over recent decades.

“C.R.A.S.H.-B. Sprints is one of the oldest and most prominent indoor rowing events,” says Cox. “It began from a small group of Olympians who began competing at Newell (Harvard) Boathouse after the 1980 Olympic boycott [by the US and other nations, who chose not to attend the Moscow Games for political reasons] and has grown over the years to a premier event with athletes ranging from 12-96.”

That ability to adapt and stay relevant is at the heart of what makes C.R.A.S.H.-B. such an important and unique event.  “We pride ourselves in having an inclusive event that brings together athletes of all ages and backgrounds and gives them the chance to race in a world class arena in Boston,” says Cox. “Our signature hammer trophy is one of the most notorious awards in the sport.”

Full results here.