Rowing at Bowdoin dates back to at least 1858-it was Bowdoin’s first intercollegiate sport-and Bowdoin competed in regattas until 1894, when rowing’s popularity was supplanted by football (and the Androscoggin River was becoming increasingly polluted). It took nearly 100 years until the Bowdoin Navy officially plied the waters again, when in 1986, Brad Lisle ’87 and Charles “Rudder” MacKenzie ’87 recruited coach Bill Brown, and with support from Phineas Sprague ’50, launched Bowdoin’s modern crew program.
Some 115 alumni rowers, current rowers parents, and friends returned to the New Meadows last Saturday to celebrate the milestone anniversary. Crew faithful dedicated a new hull in honor of coach Brown, had lunch overlooking the river, took launch rides, and even got back into shells to row, before returning to campus for a tour and dinner and a reception.
Current Head Coach Gil Birney and crew-who have distinguished themselves and Bowdoin in regional, national, and international competition-continue their fall “head” season at the Textile River Regatta this weekend on the Merrimac River, in Lowell, Mass.; followed by the Head of the Snake on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass, October 15; the New Hampshire Championships (on the Merrimac in Hooksett, N.H.) on October 16; and wrap up the season October 22 at the famous Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston.
The following slideshow features photos from the reunion weekend, archival images from the 1800s, and random rower-submitted photos from the ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s.