Racers unfazed by Stotesbury Cup Regatta's forced change of venue

Steve Tawa
May 18, 2018 - 8:54 pm

Steve Tawa | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Last-minute weather and current problems on the Schuylkill River forced the organizers of the Stotesbury Cup Regatta to move the largest high school race in the world over to the Cooper River in Pennsauken. But the 6,000 participating rowers were pumped to be racing, regardless of which body of water.

While the rain was a nuisance, the high water and strong river flow rate made conditions unsafe on the Schuylkill, according to one of the race directors, Bonnie Mueller, vice commodore of the Schuylkill Navy.

"Some believed it would be absolutely impossible to logistically move the entire venue within 36 hours," she said.

But the only other option was canceling. So, volunteers marshalled their forces to help nearly 200 schools move 975 boats, gear, tents and supplies to the Cooper River.

"It's controlled by a dam, and water can be emptied out, based on the tide of the Delaware River," said Jamie Stack, manager of the Camden County Boathouse. "And it's got a 1500-meter race course, just like the Schuylkill."

Stack said this course is good because it's a straight shot.

"There's no flow because of the dam. Every lane is even, and when there is a wind, it typically benefits, or hurts, all lanes evenly," he added.

Stotesbury Regatta
Steve Tawa | KYW Newsradio

The Lower Merion High Junior Varsity squad was happy to volunteer to move the race. Contestant Zeke, 16, and his buddies said competitors used to call them "Slower Merion," but no longer.

"They call us 'Uh, Oh Merion,'" he said. "When the other boats see us coming, they say 'Uh, oh.'"

The Lower Merion crew medaled at the city championships recently on the Schuylkill. That's a first in more than 30 years.

Organizers are grateful for the Cooper River venue, but the Schuylkill River Navy of Philadelphia, the governing body on Boathouse Row, is committed to its 92-year history and tradition of racing on the Schuylkill.