The 1967 Row Down Crew (Jim Bartlett, Bill Brinkmeyer, Roger Hansen, Rich Holmes, Mike Kido, Rolf Morstad, Jim Ojala, Norm Purvis, Bob Sullivan, Bob Torget, Gary Van Hoy, Jim Wiitala, George Wood)
In the mid 1960’s, the PLU Mens Rowing team had been racing with University of Washington’s famous shell, the Husky Clipper (best known for playing a part in USA’s dramatic 1936 Olympic victory in Berlin). Promoting rowing in the northwest, UW was lending old racing shells to programs throughout Washington. However, in 1967 University of Washington wanted their shell back so they could hang it for display. To compensate, UW gave Green Lake Crew an old eight, and Green Lake Crew donated the “Loyal Shoudy” to PLU.
Transporting the Loyal Shoudy to Tacoma would prove to be a difficult task. Limited on funds, these brave men did what they had to do, they rowed the thing down. Fighting the bitter cold, the Row Down Crew, carried the Loyal Shoudy on their shoulders from Green Lake to Lake Union where they set the boat in the frigid waters. Rowing through the Ballard Locks, passing Alki Point, passing down hot chocolate during their breaks, the crew beached at Saltwater State Park, warming up by a fire before heading out again. Two motorboats accompanied them on their journey, allowing the four extra men to tap in and take over some duties. Once they rowed to Point Defiance (an estimate of 55 miles of rowing) the crew docked and the National Guard helped them get through the Tacoma Narrows.
The Row Down crew not only had an impact on PLU Rowing for the years to come but made a great impression within the rowing community across the nation. Their accomplishment landed in the spotlight at the Seattle Post Intelligencer’s “Man of the Year in Sports” banquet. Our Golden Oar Society recognizes all of the achievements and the great impact the Row Down Crew had on PLU Rowing.
If you would like to read more about the Row Down Crew, our very own Jim Ojala recounts that day among other memories here.
(Photo Credits: Jim Ojala, A Brief History of PLU Crew)