Ready to regatta (and tailgate) this weekend?
Hit the Schuylkill Banks this Friday and Saturday to catch the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta, the largest collegiate regatta in the nation.
The two-day series of races is an annual tradition in Philadelphia, drawing thousands of athletes from more than 125 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada and crowds of more than 10,000 spectators.
- Races take place from May 13-14 on a 2,000-meter stretch along the Schuylkill River.
- Thousands of collegiate athletes come from all over the nation and Canada to compete.
- The event is completely free to watch.
- The course begins near where Kelly Drive intersects Hunting Park Ave. and ends just above the Columbia Ave. Bridge.
With races that run parallel to Kelly Drive, the event brings the perfect opportunity to plan a riverbank picnic and enjoy a weekend outdoors. In between races, spectators can meet the athletes at Rowers Village, browse rowing-related shops and refuel on food and drinks at the Food Court.
The Dad Vail races take place on a six-lane, Olympic-length course. They begin just north of where Kelly Drive intersects Hunting Park Avenue and end 2,000 meters later at the Grand Stand, just above the Columbia Avenue Bridge.
Thousands of collegiate athletes are expected to compete from all over the U.S. and Canada.
The Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta was named after famous rowing coach Harry Emerson “Dad” Vail, a long-time coach at the University of Wisconsin.
Vail’s strong beliefs and passion for the sport ushered in the modern day Dad Vail Regatta and continue to inspire the colleges and universities that come to compete.
Best Places to Watch
If you’re seeking to scope out the ideal spot to watch the race, the grandstands near the Jack Kelly statute (at 2200 Kelly Drive) are the place to go. This landmark location marks the finish line, where you can capture all of the excitement of the rowers who are sprinting their boats to the end.
Note that shuttle buses will also stop at Rowers Village, near the start of the course, the Canoe Club (mid-course) and the 500-meter mark (final quarter), all popular spectator locations.
A full spectator’s guide to the regatta can be found here.
While tailgaters should rejoice over this news, it should be noted that Kelly Drive is closed during the regatta, so you’ll need to park at designated lots near Boathouse Row or the Philadelphia Museum of Art and take a shuttle bus to the races. Every 15-20 minutes, shuttle buses will pick up regatta-goers free-of-charge from the parking areas and by the Philadelphia Museum of Art at 25th Street and Kelly Drive.