The 2017 Dad Vail Regatta races to beat the rain

The 79th Annual Dad Vail Regatta is in full swing along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, but the specter of rain is looming over the event. Organizers added races to Friday's schedule, because Saturday's forecast is filled with rain.

Still, the banks of the river are lined with excited fans, and the rowers say they aren't letting gray skies ruin their fun, or their competitive spirit.

"We are not just here to paddle around on the river, we are really going for the gold," Paige White, of the University of Delaware told Action News.

Dr. Eric Zillmer, Drexel University's Athletic Director calls it rowing's biggest day!

"It is like the Kentucky Derby, the Super Bowl and the World Cup put together into one event," Zillmer said.

The two day competition attracts thousand of athletes from more than 100 hundred colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. It is billed as the largest collegiate regatta in the nation and it also brings out thousands of spectators.

Organizer Jim Hanna says there is no better place to see this kind of event.

"The Schuylkill River race course is unique in the nation. You can sit on the riverbank and you can watch the perspiration on the brows of the athletes and hear their breathing as they are taking their final strokes coming to the finish line," Hanna told Action News.

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Rowers hit the Schuylkill for the 2017 Dad Vail Regatta.

Before the fun and excitement began, there was a bit of disappointment. The University of Pittsburgh race team had only been in town for a few hours when thieves broke into two of its vans stealing personal items including laptops and backpacks. Regatta officials say it won't stop the team from racing.

"People could probably come to the Dad Vail Regatta without any boat or any equipment and they could scrounge up something. There is a lot of comradery and team work. That is what we teach," organizer Hanna said.

The regatta is all about team work and accomplishing goals and nothing will stop the rowers from crossing the finishing line. The CEO of Independence Blue Cross, Dan Hilferty, told Action News it's that spirit that attracts the organization as a sponsor.

"When you think of Independence Blue Cross's efforts to promote what we call Live Fearless, what better event to do that than the Dad Vail Regatta."

For more on the Dad Vail Regatta, including course maps, photos and schedules, as well is updated results click here.
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