Members of the UCLA men’s heavyweight varsity eight crew are generous enough hosts to give the shirts off their backs to their opposite numbers from Oxford and the University of California.
But the Bruins are also stubborn enough not to want to lose their shirts to either Oxford or the Bears. By rowing tradition, losing crews are required to give their jerseys to the winners of a race.
And UCLA, the Oxford Blue and Cal will vie for the Maury Grossman Cup at noon Saturday in the featured race of the UCLA Crew Classic at Marina del Rey.
This will be the first time in the history of Oxford rowing, which dates to the first Oxford-Cambridge race in 1829, that the Blue will compete on the West Coast. Cal is defending champion in the 2,000-meter race, and the chairman for the classic is Gregory Peck, a former oarsman for Berkeley. Actor-comedian Dudley Moore, an Oxford alumnus, will be master of ceremonies.
The heavyweight varsity eight of Oxford Coach Daniel Topolski has defeated Cambridge in their historic race 11 of the last 13 years. This year’s varsity has been described as untested, “but with talent.” The talent includes Bruce Philp and Mathew Thomas, both members of last year’s varsity, and a couple of renegades from Cal: Chris Clark and George Livingston, both former Bear standouts.
Cal finished second to Washington last year in the Pacific 10 Conference and sixth in the nationals. Tim Hodges, coach of the Bears, has an all-conference oarsman returning in Daemon Anastas of San Diego and expects a strong year from Chip McKibben, a transfer from Orange Coast College.
The rest of Hodges’ eight will be made up mostly of newcomers. Hodges said that, though his varsity has the potential to be one of the best in the country, “it will take a lot of hard work to get us there.” Jim Sims is in his first year as UCLA’s head coach but has been freshman coach for the past four years and also from 1968 through 1970. Last year the Bruins were third in the Pac-10 with one senior on the varsity. This year UCLA, with five seniors and one junior among the eight, is expected to contend for the conference crown.
The Bruin senior lettermen are Eric Stroh, John Wright, All-Pac-10 Guy Reza, Scott Mahaffy and Chris Hirth, and Mike Still is the junior.
The featured race is the last in a program that is scheduled to start at 8:40 a.m. Other races will include UCLA and Cal rowers from the women’s crews, lightweight men’s crews and heavyweight freshman and novice crews. Oxford will race only in the feature.