Not your father’s Dad Vail

    Six months ago the Dad Vail regatta announced that, after 75 years, it was abandoning Philadelphia and moving to Rumson, New Jersey. Now, the closing of Kelly Drive proves otherwise. The city did a last-minute scramble to keep the regatta on the Schuylkill.

    Live Dad Vail video.

    Six months ago the Dad Vail regatta announced that, after 75 years, it was abandoning Philadelphia and moving to Rumson, New Jersey. Now, the closing of Kelly Drive proves otherwise. The city did a last-minute scramble to keep the regatta on the Schuylkill.

    As rowers arrive to register for the Dad Vail regatta, welders are still working on renovating the grandstand seating. Farther up the riverbank are VIP tents with plasma-screen TVs. The presence of corporate sponsors is in large part due to Herb Lotman, who brokered a deal between the city, the regatta, and its title sponsor, Aberdeen Global Asset Management.

    You never saw tents like this, you never saw skyboxes, you never seen hospitality tents, there are seven corporations entertaining their customers.

    Lotman may have shined up the Dad Vail brand to make it attractive to sponsors, but that doesn’t mean much to the athletes on the water. Mike Davenport has been coming to the regatta since 1974, once as a rower, now as head coach at Washington College in Maryland. He says, from a competitive standpoint, it doesn’t matter if the race is in Philadelphia or Rumson.

    But looking at it from tradition, it would matter. This is Philly. As much as you may see somebody getting tased at a baseball game, there is a love for rowing in Philadelphia.

    Another new addition to the Dad Vail is a webcam streaming live video of the races over the internet. I’m Peter Crimmins, WHYY news.

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