In October of 1985, two Brandeis students—Al Faierman ’87 and Steve Simons ’89—attended the annual Head of the Charles Regatta. Inspired by the world class race, they decided they wanted to row. Around that same time, Phil Kesten arrived at Brandeis to continue his post-doctorate studies. Phil had rowed as an undergraduate at M.I.T., and had coached at the University of Michigan. Phil hoped to continue coaching at Brandeis. Unfortunately, there was no Brandeis Crew in 1985. The founders held a meeting to attract interested students in 1986, and the Brandeis Crew was born. Twenty strong, the inaugural Crew raised enough money to purchase two old wooden boats and two sets of oars. The Athletic Department donated money for a coach’s launch. However, without access to a boathouse or docks, this equipment, and the Crew, found themselves landlocked.
Soon after, an old agreement between Brandeis and the Metropolitan District Commission was uncovered, in which the University had reserved the right to build a boathouse on a strip of land on the Charles River behind school property. Shortly after they began clearing the land, upset neighbors summoned Brandeis and M.D.C. officials. Instead of a boathouse, all the team walked away with were some mild cases of poison oak. Construction was halted, and the Crew remained without a boathouse.
In 1986, an invitation from Holy Cross provided the first opportunity for the Crew to race. In a borrowed boat the Crew battled inexperience and hostile weather, barely keeping themselves from rubbing against the rocks on the shores of Lake Quinsigamond. That October, the Brandeis Crew finally began to practice on the water. In the spring of 1988, the Crew purchased its first new boat, a four which was christened the “Phil Kesten.” Since then, the team has acquired more boats, bringing the total to six fours and one pair.
Brandeis Crew has now been running for twenty-five years. Over the years, Brandeis has fielded several successful crews, including the following:
1996 New England Rowing Championships: Bronze Medal Women’s Varsity Lightweight 4+
1998 New England Rowing Championships: Gold Medal Women’s Varsity 4+
2006 New Hampshire Championships: Bronze Medal Women’s 1x
2007 Textile River Regatta: Silver Medal Women’s 1x
2008 Men’s and Women’s NECRL League Champions
2009 Women’s NECRL League Champions
2010 Men’s and Women’s NECRL League Champions
2010 Textile River Regatta: Gold Medal Novice Men’s 4+