History of Case Crew's Blade Design

In 1994, Case Crew, was in the enviable position of having just purchased a new (to the team) eight-oared shell. Agnar Pytte, then president of the Univeristy, gave the team $5,000 out of his discretionary fund to purchased a used Kaschper 8+ from Jack St. Clair and his Villanova squad. President Pytte had sons that rowed for Princeton and felt that any respectable national research institution should support it's rowing program.

The 1986 Kaschper 8+ was the team's first shell and they felt it appropriate to name the boat after it's benefactor. The Agnar Pytte has since been rowed by countless Case Crew alums. To get ready for the upcoming '94 spring racing season and the naming ceremony (picture can be found HERE) the team decided it needed to paint the 10 macon oars that came as part of the purchase.

Ideas for the design were submitted by a number of members of the team. The team ultimately voted for the design below, which incorporated a stylized version of the university's then logo.

Old CWRU LOGOOriginal Blade

However, after meeting with the university's copyright and trademark office, the team was informed that the chosen design was inappropriate. Since the team was "only" a sports club, they expressed concern over our use of the school's logo. If we were to utilize the logo, we would have to incorporate the entire image and not just the sunburst pattern. We'd have to use the underline and the initials too.

These objections coupled with the knowledge that the design was assymetric forced the team to reconsider the design. The assymetry was a factor since they would look odd if used on the other side of the boat, which was an issue when the team only had 10 blades. Nowadays the assymetry is not such an issue with the advent of Big Blades. Either way, using the entire logo would have looked silly and our blade design ultimately outlasted the university's own logo. Below is the logo that lasted from about 2005-2007. Most people claim it looks like a fat person carrying a surf board.

Case Only LOGO

Certain alumni groups objected to dropping the "Western Reserve" portion of the logo from the larger font so the school spent a couple million dollars and a year's worth of time developing the logo below that was adopted in June 4, 2007.


Back to 1994... our boat naming ceremony was approaching fast and we didn't learn of the trademark office's objections until the day of the oar painting party. Brian Schultz '95 and Cindy Ching '96 quickly decided on a new design while at the paint store. The resulting design is shown below and has been the team's standard for over a decade.

Good yacht topside enamel is the best choice for painting oars. For the first decade we used Interlux Endeavour Blue, but from a distance it was difficult to discern the blue from the black in the blade design. In the early 2000's the team chose a lighter shade of blue to highlight the contrasting design better. The new blue is Interlux Brightside Ocean Blue. For trophy oars or other decorative applications, using Safety Blue (industry standard designation) from various spray paint manufacturers is perfect. You can see some examples here.

Current Blade

More blade designs from around the world can be found HERE. Of the thousands of blade designs around the world, Case Crew's is simple to paint, recognizable, and unique. A great combination!

SARA's Blade Design

The original blade design of the Spartan Alumni Rowing Association was developed by Evan Halprin '03. The design used the same white spartan logo used by other athletic team's on campus. The spartan is the same profile used by Michigan State.

SARA Blade
Spartan Logo

On July 13, 2006 the Case athletic department changed the logo for it's athletic teams. The logo features an updated spartan helmet and type face. I presume that the athletic department was tired of the school's logo being confused with Michigan State's. To reflect the changes made by the University, SARA has adopted the newer helmet logo for it's blades. If you have your own shell & oars and would like to paint them with SARA's design let us know. We can help you get a easy-to-apply decal for the blade face.

SARA Blade

-Doug Rathburn '97, G'00

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Last modified: March 16, 2016