PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Races in the 2022 Dad Vail Regatta are wrapping up in Philadelphia and for the first time since 2019, fans were allowed to cheer on the competing athletes. You could hear one mom yelling in excitement as her son competed in the largest regatta in the country.
“We were told it was going to be really crowded so we’re here nice and early and we won’t miss anything,” mother Laurie Komita said.
The Komita family is from Doylestown, but their son Benjamin is rowing for Florida Tech. They were there on Saturday morning to watch him win the semi-finals.
“To watch it on Livestream doesn’t give it the same feel at all,” Benjamin’s father Scott said.
This is the first time since 2019 that fans were allowed back in the grandstands. The event was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic and fans were banned in 2021.
“We’re back. It’s been a couple years. Last year we only had 40 programs participate and this year we have doubled to 75,” board member Brad Negaard said.
The annual collegiate rowing competition is the largest of its kind in the United States. Fifteen hundred athletes took part, coming from schools across the country.
Local programs taking part included Temple, Drexel and LaSalle Universities.
While the athletes may look calm and in unison, LaSalle’s head coach says its quite different in the boat.
“There’s a saying that it is poetry in motion. It’s a very hard sport, very raw sport. It pulls the best out of you,” Ivo Krakic said.