Five men’s boats will be in the water this weekend, along with six women’s boats, making Drexel a headliner of one of the most prestigious races in North America.
The men’s squad enters the event coming on the heels of a historic victory. For the first time in 31 years, the men took home the Bergen Cup by defeating Temple University. The women entered the Dad Vail after the varsity eight boat finished second at the Kelly Cup, and the team was awarded the first ever Chairman’s Trophy for the varsity eight’s performance at the Henley Regatta last June.
Drexel understands the importance of this race and they have been preparing accordingly.
“We have been spending the last week rehearsing the different parts of the race to improve our execution of the rowing stroke,” head coach Paul Savell said. “We are putting together a solid race by staying mentally focused and getting plenty of rest in the days leading up to race day.”
The Dragons will welcome over 100 other colleges and universities from the United States and Canada to Philadelphia for what is sure to be an exhilarating few days on the river. All of the participants will be fighting for first place finishes, and the Dragons will have many teams to overcome for a successful weekend.
The men’s varsity four boat will get things started for Drexel Friday morning. They will take on the Florida Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, University of Massachusetts Lowell, University of Pittsburgh and Vassar College. The top two teams will advance to the races Saturday. The women’s varsity four will follow Friday morning and the women in the Sandra Lee Sheller boat will be matched up against Stony Brook University, Robert Morris University, Old Dominion University, Loyola Marymount University and the University of Buffalo, with the top three times moving on to the semi-finals.
Following the varsity fours, the pairs will make a splash Friday morning with the men’s pair consisting of Liam O’Neill and Peter Schmidt, followed by the women’s pair of Elise Panacek at stroke and Kathy Cheng in bow.
At 10:35 a.m., the Bergen Cup winning men’s varsity eight boat will face Lehigh University, Ohio State University, Jacksonville University, University of Vermont and University of Rhode Island, with the top two times advancing. The much-heralded women’s varsity eight boat will race at 11:05 a.m. and they will be up against Michigan State University, the University of Connecticut, the University of Dayton, Drake University and Virginia Commonwealth University. The top two times from that heat will advance to the semi-finals.
The afternoon races will feature novice boats, and in the early evening the second women’s varsity eight boat will take the water.
“The key to success will be staying focused and maintaining confidence,” Savell said. “The most important piece is not allowing nerves and excitement get to us.”
The excitement factor will be important to keep in check, as the Dad Vail Regatta is one of the most exciting races in the world.
“For many schools in the nation, the Dad Vail Regatta is the premier event for the year where teams look to have their greatest speed,” Savell said. “It is a very exciting event and we are so proud to be a part of its development over the years.”
The Dad Vail Regatta will be the talk of the rowing world this weekend, and Drexel University is certain to be a focal point.