Drexel eager to fight for Dad Vail crown

Drexel's women's varsity heavyweight eight (center) rows to a win against Old Dominion (front) and Dayton in the 2012 Dad Vail.
Drexel's women's varsity heavyweight eight (center) rows to a win against Old Dominion (front) and Dayton in the 2012 Dad Vail. (MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 09, 2013

Jack Galloway has enjoyed a long association with the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta, from his days as a rower for La Salle University to his tenure since the mid 1970s as chairman of the event.

This will be the 75th anniversary of the Dad Vail, which takes place Friday and Saturday on the Schuylkill.

The first race went off in 1934. But there were years during World War II when the event was not held, which is why this year is the 75th anniversary.

At first the event would rotate among sites such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Since 1953 Philadelphia has been the host.

"It's an outstanding event with great tradition," said Galloway, part of La Salle's 1957 men's varsity eight winner.

The Dad Vail is the largest collegiate regatta in the United States. Galloway said that 127 colleges will be represented, including some from Canada, and that nearly 4,000 rowers will participate. The races are the international distance of 2,000 meters.

Purdue is the defending champion of the Jack Bratton Overall Point Trophy, which is a measure of the team's showing in all races. The Boilermakers scored 37 points, finishing two points ahead of Drexel.

The fact that Drexel fared so well continued a trend for the Dragons. Over the previous four years, Drexel sent 20 boats to the grand finals and earned five gold medals, three silvers, and two bronze.

Last year Drexel won gold medals in the women's second varsity eight and the women's novice eight.

Michigan is the defending men's champion, while Bucknell edged Duke to claim the women's crown.

Coming so close last season has provided definite incentive for Drexel this year.

"What we did last year made it such an obvious goal to try to win this year," said Paul Savell, Drexel's sixth-year men's and women's coach. "Everybody wants to do their part."

Savell said this has been Drexel's best spring in his six seasons.

"We are in at least as good a position as last year and we're hoping to be a couple of points better," he said.

Kurt Linton, a senior captain from St. Augustine Prep, and Vanja Busic, a junior from Croatia, have been among the men's leaders Savell said. He pointed to Mollie Cusack, a senior from Upper Dublin, and Julia Jackson, a senior from Holy Spirit, as two of the key leaders of the women's team.

Even if Drexel was not a contender, competing at the Dad Vail, especially for a Philadelphia school, is extremely important.

"It's a big deal for us," Savell said.

And for many other schools.

There will be one huge void this year, and it has nothing to do with racing.

Harry Stinger, the press officer for the Dad Vail for the last 26 years, has retired. Known for his meticulous news releases and indefatigable attention to all things media, Stinger said his favorite memory of the regatta was its "colorful characters."

He was certainly one of them.


Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @sjnard.

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