Richard A. Dreissigacker
Team: Crew

Richard A. Dreissigacker '69
Sport: Crew
Year Inducted: 1985
Other Sports Played: Football

Richard A. Dreissigacker '69 came to Brown to get an engineering degree. He left with his degree, in mechanical engineering, and with something else he hadn't bargained for: An abiding love of rowing, discovered and nurtured in four years on Coach Vic Michalson's crew. Dreissigacker also played football at Brown, on the freshman team and for one year on the varsity. But it was rowing that ultimately captured his undivided attention as an athlete. He rowed in the first freshman boat and was a member of the varsity heavyweight crew for three years. In his junior year, he was designated Oarsman of the Year by his coaches; as a senior, he captained the crew. After graduation, Dreissigacker joined the Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia, where he was working at the time. He made the 1970 U.S. National team in the heavyweight eights and the 1971 national team in the heavyweight fours. He also rowed in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games as a member of the U.S. Olympic coxless four. The boat did not make the semifinals of the Games, however, and after one heat Dreissigacker remarked to the press, "This is a lot different competition than we've had." He went to Stanford in 1974 to coach the varsity crew and get a master's degree in industrial engineering, and there began a business partnership with his younger brother, Pete, who was also studying engineering. They collaborated on the design of a hiker's backpack - a modest prelude to the business they formed in 1977. The new firm, operating out of an old barn in tiny landlocked Morrisville, Vermont, produced synthetic racing oars. It was a product whose time had come. As Dick explained to Sports Illustrated last year, racing shells had become highly advanced in their design and composition, utilizing synthetics. "But the oar," he said, "remained this wooden accessory that no one was paying any attention to and that hadn't really changed in a hundred years." The brothers set out to make a "super oar" - and did so. In the 1978 Eastern Sprints, Yale, using Dreissigacker oars, beat Harvard, which used wooden oars; from then on, "the oar that helped beat Harvard" took off, and sale currently average near 200 a month. "It's definitely the best in the world," said U.S. men's eight coach Kris Korzeniowski, whose crew used Dreissigackers in the 1984 summer Olympics. The brothers' customers for the oars now include almost every college, prep, high school, and club crew in the country, as well as international crews. In 1981, Dreissigacker (who is president of Concept II, Inc.) and his brother introduced a sophisticated yet simple rowing machine, the Concept II Rowing Ergometer, which has proved to be immensely popular. More than 4,000 of them have been sold and they have inspired a series of indoor regattas around the country. "Having a good start in the sport of rowing at Brown," Dick Dreissigacker notes, "generated so much interest for me that I have made it my occupation as well as a life-long sport."