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MIT Hosts Annual CRASH-Bs; Olympians Participate

By Dan Dunn

MIT's Rockwell Cage was host to the 1993 CRASH-B World Indoor Rowing Championships on Sunday. Fifteen hundred competitors from more than a dozen countries came to Cambridge to compete on the rowing ergometers, or "ergs."

The erg machine requires great strength and endurance, but very little skill. As a result, indoor rowing is accessible to all athletes, especially cross country skiers and long distance runners.

The MIT boat club had entries in five of the 11 events. Engineers competed in the men's and women's lightweight and collegiate events, and the collegiate doubles challenge. The first events were all 2500-meters long, while the challenge was 1000 meters.

MIT placed fifth in the Collegiate Challenge. The Engineer time of 3 minutes, 21.2 seconds was 11.8 seconds behind the eventual winner, Harvard University. None of MIT's individual entrants qualified for the finals.

In the master women's event, for women 30 and over, Joanne Ritchie broke her own world record by 13 seconds. Ann-Marie Dryden, of Imperial College of British Columbia, came within 0.8 seconds of breaking the world record for light weight women.

The winner of the open women's event was Helene Cortin of Dunkirk, France. She defeated the American rower Amy Fuller, who was vying for her third consecutive title.

The men's open was won by Matthias Siejkowski of Germany. He held off Jamie Koven of Brown University to win his third title since 1990.

Mathematics professor Hartley Rogers Jr. came in fourth in the men's veteran B event. Between 1982 and 1987, Rogers won the first six championships in the veteran's divisions.

The acronym CRASH-B stands for the Charles River All Star Has-Beens. The group was started in 1982 by a Harvard alumnus. Membership was once restricted to former and present Olympic or national team members, but this restriction has been relaxed over time.

The CRASH-Bs treat the events rather irreverently. The winner of each event does not win a medal, but a hammer. The term "hammer" refers to an oarsman who has a great deal of power, but who is completely lacking in finesse. The group also reserves the right to rewrite the rules so that it can win the overall points trophy every year.

This group has organized the sprints for 11 years, with mounting success. Last year's 16 finalists, included 15 Olympic competitors -- five of them gold medal winners. Most of this year's competitors competed at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.