Chris Combs – CRCA Hall of Fame Class of 2013
This past May in 2013, Chris Combs worked his 34th EAWRC. Chris was involved in help bring the race to Lake Waramaug, CT in 1979 along with Charles “Chick” Willing, Hart Perry and Fred Emerson. The lake allowed for a six-lane buoyed course where the women’s races were 1000 meters. In 1985, the race length was extended to 1,950 meters as that was all water there was.
During the first 7 years the regatta grew from 14 crews to 18 crews as women’s rowing became an important women’s college sport with investment from colleges and commitment from the coaches and athletes. Initially Waramaugs supporters worked with South Kent to create and set course and arranged with his father to have docks built for the Inn on Lake Waramaug ( Chris family’s business) that could be used for shells. Prior to races he helped manage the weekly coaches Poll done in the early years on the phone and with faxes and the USPS. During Sprints he worked as dockmaster during races.
In 1986 Chick Willing passed the job of race director to Chris Combs. Now he was managing the event as well as working with coaches in fall, planning for next season and developing administrative aspects with the executive committee. During the spring season, he continued with the weekly polls, while preparing for the championship event race. Because of the support of the coaches he received and the development of friendships he made, any work he did to help advocate women’s rowing an honor.
In 1997, women’s rowing became an NCAA sponsored championship, and due to the NCAA selection criteria, the Women’s Sprints left Lake Waramaug and headed to the Cooper River. With full support of the coaches, Chris remained regatta director and helped the Women’s Sprints get up and running in Cherry Hill, working with the local organizing group.